A Reflection in Autumn

Now Autumn's come, adieu the pleasing greens,
The charming landscape, and the flow'ry plain !
All have deserted from these motley scenes,
With blighted yellow ting'd, and russet stain.

Though desolation seems to triumph here.
Yet this is Spring to what we still shall find :
The trees must all in nakedness appear,
'Reft of their foliage by the blustiy wind.

Just so 'twill fare with me in Autumn's Life ;
Just so I'd wish : but may the trunk and all
Die with the leaves ; nor taste that wintry strife,
When sorrows urge, and fear impedes the fall.

from "Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery" (1920)


'Tis autumn now, and nature's scenes,
The pleachy fields and yellowing tree,
Lose all their blooming hues and greens;
But nature finds no change in me.
The fading woods, the russet grange,
The hues of nature may desert;
But naught in me shall find a change
To wrong the angel of my heart.

For Mary is my angel still
Through every month and every ill.
The leaves they loosen from the branch
And fall upon the gusty wind;
But my heart's silent love is staunch,
And naught can tear her from my mind.

The flowers are gone from dell and bower,
Though crowds from summer's lap were given;
But love is an eternal flower,
Like purple amaranths of heaven.
To Mary first my heart did bow.
And if she's true she keeps it now.

Just as the summer keeps the flower
Which spring concealed in hoods of gold,
Or unripe harvest met the shower
And made earth's blessings manifold;
Just so my Mary lives for me,
A silent thought for months and years;
The world may live in revelry,
Her name my lonely quiet cheers;
And cheer it will, whate'er may be,
While Mary lives in bloom for me.

"Oxford World's Classics" - John Clare Major Works (OUP 2004)

Song: The Fruit is fair to luik upo'

The Fruit is fair to luik upo'
& the flower is fair to see
But my ain flower wi' her sweet clais on
Is the sweetest gem for me
The flower's o' garden's & o' fields
Right bonny flowers may be
The fruit o' orchards flower's o' brae's
Are na' sae sweet to me
She beets them a' in sunday claes
 There's na' sich like on bauks & braes
Her gown is red & white & blue
The tartan rainbow coloured shade
Her face is roses blushing true
& lilys grow beneath the plaid
Her waist a single arm may span
Her ancle gimp her leg sae bra'
A proper angel for a man
Her foot the smallest o' the sma'
There's na sick like in sunday claes
On scotlands birks & scotlands braes
I've travelled scotland three times oer
& the flower upo' the heather know
I never saw the like before
By hill or flood or birkenshaw
There's fruits & flower's in mony a glen
But o' the like they've nane to show
She beats them oer & oer agen
The maid upo' the heather know
She beats them a' when i' her sunday clais
Theres nae sic like on bauks or brae's

LP I 162

Censorship of the poet.

Clare's first published volume "Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery," passed rapidly through three editions, and a fourth was printed. Several of Clare's influential friends took exception to a few passages in the first issue on the ground that they were rather too outspoken in their rusticity, and Lord Radstock strongly urged the omission in subsequent editions of several lines which he characterized as "Radical slang." Mr. Taylor contested both points for some time, but Lord Radstock threatened to disown Clare if he declined to oblige his patrons, and the poet at length made the desired concessions. The following were a few of the passages over which his lordship exercised censorship:

Accursed Wealth! o'erbounding human laws,
Of every evil thou remain'st the cause.

Sweet rest and peace, ye dear, departed charms,
Which industry once cherished in her arms,
When ease and plenty, known but now to few,
Were known to all, and labour had its due.

The rough, rude ploughman, off his fallow-grounds,
(That necessary tool of wealth and pride)...

The Luckless Journey

A special posting for Remembrance Sunday

Tho' fine prov'd the morning O sad prov'd the ramble
Adown by the Willows adown by the lee
Adown by the cottage where Hedge rows of bramble
Hides it from all strangers but unlucky me

For there I espied and admir'd a young rosie
I lov'd and had hopes in possesing the flower
Till Cupid flew laughing away with the posie
And left me the thorns which I feel at this hour

O Willows and brambles—what deamon beset me
To make me to go where your cottage arose
Yet still was you all I could hope to forget ye
But o there's no hopes in forgetting the rose

The wounds are not lightly that abscence should ease 'em
No no they'r so deep twill but poison the pain
Tho lifes sober autumn may wisely appease 'em
A pang sad Remembrance will ever retain

The Wood-cutter's Night Song

Welcome, red and roundy sun,
  Dropping lowly in the west;
Now my hard day's work is done,
  I'm as happy as the best.

Joyful are the thoughts of home,
  Now I'm ready for my chair,
So, till morrow-morning's come,
  Bill and mittens, lie ye there!

Though to leave your pretty song,
  Little birds, it gives me pain,
Yet to-morrow is not long,
  Then I'm with you all again.

If I stop, and stand about,
  Well I know how things will be,
Judy will be looking out
  Every now-and-then for me.

So fare ye well! and hold your tongues,
  Sing no more until I come;
They're not worthy of your songs
  That never care to drop a crumb.

All day long I love the oaks,
  But, at nights, yon little cot,
Where I see the chimney smokes,
  Is by far the prettiest spot.

Wife and children all are there,
  To revive with pleasant looks,
Table ready set, and chair,
  Supper hanging on the hooks.

Soon as ever I get in,
  When my faggot down I fling,
Little prattlers they begin
  Teasing me to talk and sing.

Welcome, red and roundy sun,
  Dropping lowly in the west;
Now my hard day's work is done,
  I'm as happy as the best.

Joyful are the thoughts of home,
  Now I'm ready for my chair,
So, till morrow-morning's come,
  Bill and mittens, lie ye there!

An Outlaw in the Playground

The sense in which Clare is an 'outlaw' is one of perspective rather than law and is bound up with enclosure which, from the farmers' and the landowners' point of view is a fine thing, but 'change the angle of vision, the nature of experience, and the 'never weary plough' provides not wealth but devastation, 'a desert'. And it is, then, the ultimate irony that Clare's own poems themselves become out of bounds.'

Indeed, the reason Clare has been overlooked until recently is because of his being an 'outlaw', speaking with a voice which is not 'English', at least, not in the entirely artificial, literary and culturally orthodox notion of what was and what was not possible for peasant poets to say.

From a review in the
John Clare Society Newsletter No. 27 – March 1990
of England and Englishness
by Prof. John Lucas
Hogarth Press, 1990

The Boy’s Playground
Here lies the germ and happiness of life —
The foot-beat playground of the village boys;
Echo is weary of the rapturous strife,
And almost fades 'neath the excessive noise;
Some race at leap-frog o'er each other's back,
Some chase their shadows in the evening sun,
Some play at hare and hounds, a noisy pack,
Or ‘Duck, duck under water’ shout, and run;
Others at hopscotch try their cautious skill,
Or nine-peg morris cut on grassy hill;
Astraddle upon clapping gates some swee,
Or tie the branches down of willow tree.
A passing-bell scarce makes a deeper sigh
Than the remembrances of days gone by.