A Moments Rapture while bearing the Lovley Weight of A. S---R---S

[For once, I think a photo is superfluous -- just use your imagination]

Unequal'd raptures happiest happiness
For sure no raptures can compare with thee
Now lovley Anna in her sunday dress
In softest pressure sits upon my knee.—
For O to see the snowey bosom heave
And feel those robes to me so softley cleave
Robes which half show what modesty consceals
While round her slender wa[i]ste I fling my arms
And while her eye what's wanting yet reveals
To me apears such (more than heavenly) charms
That might I wish—and could I be so blest
To have it granted—O I'd wish to be
For ever of this matchles maid posses'd
To bear her weight through all Eternity

The Approach of Spring (IV)

I've met the Winter's biting breath
In Nature's wild retreat,
When Silence listens as in death,
And thought its wildness sweet;
And I have loved the Winter's calm
When frost has left the plain,
When suns that morning waken'd warm
Left eve to freeze again.

I've heard in Autumn's early reign
Her first, her gentlest song;
I've mark'd her change o'er wood and plain,
And wish'd her reign were long;
Till winds, like armies, gather'd round,
And stripp'd her colour'd woods,
And storms urged on, with thunder-sound,
Their desolating floods.

And Summer's endless stretch of green,
Spread over plain and tree,
Sweet solace to my eyes has been,
As it to all must be;
Long I have stood his burning heat,
And breathed the sultry day,
And walk'd and toil'd with weary feet,
Nor wish'd his pride away.

But oft I've watch'd the greening buds
Brush'd by the linnet's wing,
When, like a child, the gladden'd woods
First lisp the voice of Spring;
When flowers, like dreams, peep every day,
Reminding what they bring,
I've watch'd them, and am warn'd to pay
A preference to Spring.

The Approach of Spring (III)

This, my third posting of Clare's The Approach of Spring, is dedicated to the students of City College, Plymouth where yesterday I gave lectures (well chatted really) on The Life and Work of John Clare. A very attentive and interested group of students, most of whom had not previously been aware of the amazing poetic genius of Clare. A joy for me, and I hope for those present.

Bright dews illume the grassy plain,
Sweet messengers of morn,
And drops hang glistening after rain
Like gems on every thorn;
What though the grass is moist and rank
Where dews fall from the tree,
The creeping sun smiles on the bank
And warms a seat for thee.

The eager morning earlier wakes
To glad thy fond desires,
And oft its rosy bed forsakes
Ere night's pale moon retires;
Sweet shalt thou feel the morning sun
To warm thy dewy breast,
And chase the chill mist's purple dun
That lingers in the west.

Her dresses Nature gladly trims,
To hail thee as her queen,
And soon shall fold thy lovely limbs
In modest garb of green:
Each day shall like a lover come
Some gifts with thee to share,
And swarms of flowers shall quickly bloom
To dress thy golden hair.

All life and beauty warm and smile
Thy lovely face to see,
And many a hopeful hour beguile
In seeking joys with thee:
The sweetest hours that ever come
Are those which thou dost bring,
And sure the fairest flowers that bloom
Are partners of the Spring.


The Approach of Spring (II)

Through hedgerow leaves, in drifted heaps
Left by the stormy blast,
The little hopeful blossom peeps,
And tells of winter past;
A few leaves flutter from the woods,
That hung the season through,
Leaving their place for swelling buds
To spread their leaves anew.

'Mong wither'd grass upon the plain,
That lent the blast a voice,
The tender green appears again,
And creeping things rejoice;
Each warm bank shines with early flowers,
Where oft a lonely bee
Drones, venturing on in sunny hours,
Its humming song to thee.

The birds are busy on the wing,
The fish play in the stream;
And many a hasty curdled ring
Crimps round the leaping bream;
The buds unfold to leaves apace,
Along the hedgerow bowers,
And many a child with rosy face
Is seeking after flowers.

The soft wind fans the violet blue,
Its opening sweets to share,
And infant breezes, waked anew,
Play in the maidens' hair—
Maidens that freshen with thy flowers,
To charm the gentle swain,
And dally, in their milking hours,
With lovers' vows again.


The Approach of Spring (I)

Now once again, thou lovely Spring,
Thy sight the day beguiles;
For fresher greens the fairy ring,
The daisy brighter smiles:
The winds, that late with chiding voice
Would fain thy stay prolong,
Relent, while little birds rejoice,
And mingle into song.

Undaunted maiden, thou shalt find
Thy home in gleaming woods,
Thy mantle in the southern wind,
Thy wreath in swelling buds:
And may thy mantle wrap thee round,
And hopes still warm and thrive,
And dews with every morn be found
To keep thy wreath alive.

May coming suns, that tempt thy flowers,
Smile on as they begin;
And gentle be succeeding hours
As those that bring thee in:
Full lovely are thy dappled skies,
Pearl'd round with promised showers,
And sweet thy blossoms round thee rise
To meet the sunny hours.

The primrose bud, thy early pledge,
Sprouts 'neath each woodland tree,
And violets under every hedge
Prepare a seat for thee:
As maids just meeting woman's bloom
Feel love's delicious strife,
So Nature warms to find thee come,
And kindles into life.

(to be continued...)

from 'Address to a Lark'

I'm poor enough, there's plenty knows it ;
Obscure ; how dull, my scribbling shows it :
Then sure 'twas madness to suppose it,
What I was at,
To gain preferment ! there I'll close it :
So mum for that.

Let mine, sweet Bird, then be a warning :
Advice in season don't be scorning,
But wait till Spring's first days are dawning
To glad and cheer thee ;
And then, sweet Minstrel of the morning,
I'd wish to hear thee.


[Image: The Shepherd’s Calendar (February) – Carry Akroyd]

The snow is gone from cottage tops
The thatch moss glows in brighter green
And eaves in quick succession drops
Where grinning icicles hath been
Pit patting wi a pleasant noise
In tubs set by the cottage door
And ducks and geese wi happy joys
Douse in the yard pond brimming oer
The sun peeps thro the window pane
Which childern mark wi laughing eye
And in the wet street steal again
To tell each other spring is nigh

Thus nature of the spring will dream
While south winds thaw but soon again
Frost breaths upon the stiffening stream
And numbs it into ice—the plain
Soon wears its merry garb of white
And icicles that fret at noon
Will eke their icy tails at night
Beneath the chilly stars and moon
Nature soon sickens of her joys
And all is sad and dumb again

John Clare – The Shepherd’s Calendar (February - excerpt)

Snow has given way to rain again and everywhere is mud. In the fields the men at their ploughs, or hedging and ditching, curse the cold wet that lashes their faces and the cloying mud that clogs their boots and drags them to a standstill. The shepherds set their backs to the wind as the winter lambing begins. The enclosure teams, at their fence-setting and stone-breaking, listen for the chiming of the church clock and count the hours until dusk when spades and hammers can be dropped and forgotten. The women, hurrying from dairy to coop, from kitchen to midden, lift their gowns and scold the wet that soaks their feet and the puddles that stain and bedraggle the hems of their petticoats. They curse the splashing horses and carts that throw up their stinking mud from the street. Only the ducks and geese in the yard-ponds rejoice at the wetness of the world.

Under the trees in the skirts of Oxey Wood and Royce Wood and beneath the blackthorn bushes on the commons the nodding snowdrops are come, that with the first crying lambs signal that the winter season is beginning to slacken its hold.

Hugh Lupton – The Ballad of John Clare 
(Chapter 14 – St. Valentine’s Day)