from "Child Harold"

Fame blazed upon me like a comets glare
Fame waned & left me like a fallen star
Because I told the evil what they are
& truth & falshood never wished to mar
My Life hath been a wreck — & I've gone far
For peace & truth — & hope — for home & rest
— Like Edens gates — fate throws a constant bar —
Thoughts may o'ertake the sunset in the west
— Man meets no home within a womans breast

Though they are blazoned in the poets song
As all the comforts which our lifes contain
I read & sought such joys my whole life long
& found the best of poets sung in vain
But still I read & sighed & sued again
& lost no purpose where I had the will
I almost worshiped when my toils grew vain
Finding no antidote my pains to kill
I sigh a poet & a lover still

(lines 426 - 443)

Tim Chilcott (ed),
John Clare, The Living Year, 1841
(Nottingham: Trent Editions, 1999)

[Image: Mike Hobson]

Tis martinmass from rig to rig

Tis martinmass from rig to rig
Ploughed fields & meadow lands are blea
In hedge & field each restless twig
Is dancing on the naked tree
Flags in the dykes are bleached & brown
Docks by its sides are dry & dead
All but the ivy bows are brown
Upon each leaning dotterels head
Crimsoned with awes the awthorns bend
Oer meadow dykes & rising floods
The wild geese seek the reedy fen
& dark the storm comes oer the woods
The crowds of lapwings load the air
With buzes of a thousand wings
There flocks of starnels too repair
When morning oer the valley springs

The Poems of John Clare,
ed. J. W. Tibble (2 volumes, Dent, 1935)

[Image: Starling flock over Dartmoor, January 2013]

The Maid I Love

The maid I love is fair as driven snow
Her raven curls around her white neck flow
Like light from the darkness comes above
Is the beautiful girl that I love

The maid I love is like the wild hedge rose
That by woodside in the hedge row blows
Her lily hand is hidden in a glove
Soft are the features of the maid I love

An heart hidden thought it seems to me
A womans worth is there in a maids simplicity
Hope glances on her eyelids from above
Oh sweet is the presence of the maid I love

As roses in the green bud lie concealed
In the summers sunny breath are revealed
So in hidden thought that fair one I approve
Who will waken up my heart to her love

The Later Poems of John Clare 1837-1864
ed. Eric Robinson and David Powell
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1984)

O thou mysterious past...

O thou mysterious past from time set free
What hopes joys fears lye buried under thee
The very winds that passed where thou didst dwell
& clouds slow sailing oer that happy dell
Where charged with idle messages of sighs
& anxious wishes of my gazing eyes
When ere thou wandered out at evenings hour
My heart was jealous of each happy flower
I thought they crowded in thy pleasant ways
To woo thy beauty & to win thy praise
I thought the folding star with eager climb
Gained evenings twilight arch before her time
& moons more soon than they were wont to be
Shone out on purpose to be found by thee

Pet MS A42 p103
Unpublished Sonnet

[Image: Mike Hobson]

To a Winter Scene

Hail scenes of Desolation & despair
Keen Winters over bearing sport & scorn
Torn by his Rage in ruins as you are
To me more pleasing then a summers morn
Your shatter'd scenes appear—despoild & bare
Stript of your clothing naked & forlorn
—Yes Winters havoc wretched as you shine
Dismal to others as your fate may seem
Your fate is pleasing to this heart of mine
Your wildest horrors I the most esteem.—
The ice-bound floods that still with rigour freeze
The snow clothd valley & the naked tree
These sympathising scenes my heart can please
Distress is theirs—& they resemble me

Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820)

Address to a lark singing in Winter

Aye—little Larkie whats the reason
Singing thus in winter season
Nothing surely can be pleasing
To make the[e] sing
For I see nought but cold and freezing
And feel it sting
Perhaps (all done wi' silent mourning)
Thou thinks that summer is returning
And this the last cold frosty morning
To chill thy breast
If so I pity thy discerning
And so I've guest
Poor little songster vainly cheated
Stay leave thy singing uncompleated
Drop were thou was beforehand seated
In thy warm nest
Nor let vain wishes be repeated
But sit at rest

(Lines 1 - 18)
Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820)

Beautifull poetry I bow to thee

Beautifull poetry I bow to thee
Here in the midst of winter & of dearth
I trace the sunny climes of Italy
& all the georgeous Edens upon earth
Far from the land that chilled my early birth
To Stambouls plains & rich perenial hours
Rich Turkey's climes & all the wealth of earth
O poesy thy unexausted powers
Gives me these summers of eternal flowers
Sweet Italy & Turkey full as sweet
When shall I meet agen in heavens own eye
Those angels & those houris that would greet
My wanderings in romes hills & Stambouls sky
Where Eden in mans reach would bloom & lie
With woman's smiles about him on loves wing
Fluttered around me in the sweetest sky
Joy realized the love my memories sing
Beautys fond smile & loves eternal spring

The Later Poems of John Clare 1837-1864
ed. Eric Robinson and David Powell
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1984)

January (from The Shepherd's Calendar)


Withering and keen the winter comes
While confort flyes to close shut rooms
And sees the snow in feathers pass
Winnowing by the window glass
And unfelt tempests howl and beat
Above his head in corner seat
And musing oer the changing scene
Farmers behind the tavern screne
Sit—or wi elbow idly prest
On hob reclines the corners guest
Reading the news to mark again
The bankrupt lists or price of grain
Or old moores anual prophecys
That many a theme for talk supplys
Whose almanacks thumbd pages swarm
Wi frost and snow and many a storm
And wisdom gossipd from the stars
Of politics and bloody wars
He shakes his head and still proceeds
Ne'er doubting once of what he reads
All wonders are wi faith supplyd
Bible at once and weather guide

(lines 1-22)

The Shepherd's Calendar; with Village Stories, and other Poems
Taylor (1827)