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

The hedger soakd wi the dull weather chops
On at his toils which scarcly keeps him warm
And every stroke he takes large swarms of drops
Patter about him like an april storm
The sticking dame wi cloak upon her arm
To guard against a storm walks the wet leas
Of willow groves or hedges round the farm
Picking up aught her splashy wanderings sees
Dead sticks the sudden winds have shook from off the trees
Dull for a time the slumbering weather flings
Its murky prison round then winds wake loud
Wi sudden start the once still forest sings
Winters returning song cloud races cloud
And the orison throws away its shrowd
And sweeps its stretching circle from the eye
Storm upon storm in quick succession crowd
And oer the samness of the purple skye
Heaven paints its wild irregularity

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

Charlie Turner's half-wit daughter Isabel is fallen sick. Every morning he's in Royce's Wood gathering wet sticks. He-mixes sawdust with flour for the grey scones he bakes in the-ashes, and pulls leaves and grass and begs an onion to make her a bowl of thin green soup. Jem Ferrar limes the hedgerows with trembling hands for little birds to give meat to his broth. And Joseph Dolby drinks away his wage and sleeps in one of Ralph Wormstall’s lambing sheds while his wife and boys lift stones in the fields.

Parker, John, Dick Turnill, Jem Johnson, Will Mash and all the enclosure team, after four weeks cursing the bitter, slanting rain that soaked their clothes and turned the soil to mire; now curse the cold frost that stiffens earth to stone.

And there is a new sound that echoes and redounds across the parish — the sound of axe to wood. All the streams are to be straightened into dykes and drains, and the willows and alders and dotterels that border Rhyme Dyke and Green Dyke and Round Oak Spring and Eastwell Spring and all the winding river banks are to be felled. The water must run now to the constraints of the ruled line.

With every stroke of iron to timber there is a sudden veering in the flight of a bird; a sudden start in the winter-sleep of badger, hedgehog, mole; a sudden shift in the deep droning note of the bees in their skeps against the church wall. The parish is set a-quiver and every fibre trembles. John knows it too, whose strings are tight-tuned to all sensation, though he is asleep to its cause and knows only a hollow ache of sorrow us the felling troubles his ears from across the fields as he works.

Hugh Lupton – The Ballad of John Clare (Chapter 11 – St. Thomas’ Eve)

from "Autumn"

Syren of sullen moods and fading hues,
Yet haply not incapable of joy,
Sweet Autumn! I thee hail
With welcome all unfeigned;

And oft as morning from her lattice peeps
To beckon up the sun, I seek with thee
To drink the dewy breath
Of fields left fragrant then,

In solitudes, where no frequented paths
But what thine own foot makes betray thine home,
Stealing obtrusive there
To meditate thy end;

By overshadowed ponds, in woody nooks,
With ramping sallows lined, and crowding sedge,
Which woo the winds to play,
And with them dance for joy;

And meadow pools, torn wide by lawless floods,
Where waterlilies spread their oily leaves,
On which, as wont, the fly
Oft battens in the sun.

The Sweetest Woman There

From bank to bank the water roars - Like thunder in a storm
A Sea in sight of both the shores - Creating no alarm
The water birds above the flood - Fly o'er the foam and spray
And nature wears a gloomy hood - On this October day
And there I saw a bonny maid - That proved my hearts delight
All day she was a Goddess made - An angel fair at night
We loved and in each others power felt - Nothing to condemn
I was the leaf and she the flower - And both grew on one stem
I loved her lip her cheek her eye - She cheered my midnight gloom
A bonny rose neath Gods own sky - In one perrenial bloom
She lives mid pastures evergreen - And meadows ever fair
Each winter spring and summer scene - The sweetest woman there


Lo! Autumn's come—wheres now the woodlands green?
The charming Landscape? and the flowrey plain?
All all are fled and left this motly scene
Of fading yellow tingh'd with russet stain
Tho these seem desolatley wild and drear
Yet these are spring to what we still shall find
Yon trees must all in nakednes appear
'Reft of their folige by the blustry wind
Just so 't'will fare with me in Autumns life
Just so I'd wish—but may the trunk and all
Die with the leaves—nor taste that wintry strife
Where Sorrows urge,—but still impede the fall.

You promised me, a year ago

You promised me, a year ago,
When autumn bleach'd the mistletoe,
That you and I should be as one;
But now another autumn's gone—
Its solemn knell is in the blast,
And love's bright sun is overcast;
Yet flowers will bloom and birds will sing,
And e'en the winter claim the spring.

The hedges will be green again,
And flowers will come on hill and plain;
And though we meet a rainy day,
The hawthorn will be white with May.
If love and nature still agree,
Green leaves will clothe the trysting-tree;
And when these pleasing days you view,
Think Lucy's heart yet be true.

from "Child Harold"

Now melancholly autumn comes anew
With showery clouds & fields of wheat tanned brown
Along the meadow banks I peace pursue
& see the wild flowers gleaming up & down
Like sun & light—the ragworts golden crown
Mirrors like sunshine when sunbeams retire
& silver yarrow—there's the little town
& oer the meadows gleams that slender spire
Reminding me of one—& waking fond desire

I love thee nature in my inmost heart
Go where I will thy truth seems from above
Go where I will thy landscape forms a part
Of heaven—e'en these fens where wood nor grove
Are seen—their very nakedness I love
For one dwells nigh that secret hopes prefer
Above the race of women—like the dove
I mourn her abscence—fate that would deter
My hate for all things—strengthens love for her

(lines 357 - 374)

from "The Autumnal Morning"

Now the Village calm & still
Droves its tenants up the hill
Gently lifts as tho it where
shed proaching near
Tho far different be the cause
That the hinds attention draws
While oer wheat fields turning brown
Laughing flings its down
Emigrating swallows now
Sweep no more the green hills brow
Nor in circuits round the spring
Skim & dip their sutty wing
& no more their chimny nigh
Twitter round to catch their flye
But with more majestic rise
Practising their exercise
& their young brood to pursue
Autums weary journy through
Meditating travels long
Wher the freshing year is young
Leaving us our cold sojourn
'Turning more till springs return

On seeing two swallows late in October

But, little lingerers, old esteem detains
Ye haply thus to brave the chilly air
When skies grow dull with winter's heavy rains
And all the orchard trees are nearly bare;
Yet the old chimneys still are peeping there
Above the russet thatch where summer's tide
Of sunny joys gave you such social fare
As makes you haply wishing to abide
In your old dwelling through the changing year.
I wish ye well to find a dwelling here,
For in the unsocial weather ye would fling
Gleanings of comfort through the winter wide,
Twittering as wont above the old fireside,
And cheat the surly winter into spring.