Ere yet the year is one month old,
In spite of frost and wind and snow,
Bare-bosomed to the quaking cold,
Spring's little selfsown flowers will blow;
And ever kin to early hours
Peep aconites in cups of gold,
With frilled leaves muffled round their flowers
Like tender maidens shunning cold.

And then as winter's parting pledge,
Like true love in his crabbed reign,
The violets 'neath the naked hedge
Peep thro' the rustling leaves again,
Soon as from off the thicket's moss
The sunshine clears the doubting snow,
And the o'erjoyed and neighing horse
Can find a patch of green to blow.

Like jewels brought by early hours,
These little littered blossoms come;
Like wanderers from fairy bowers,
They smile and gladly find a home;
And on the threshold of the spring,
Like timid children out of doors,
They lie and wait the birds to sing,
And laugh upon the splashy moors.

In April's smiling-frowning weather,
Like younkers to a holiday,
The young flowers bud in troops together
To wait the feast of merry May;
In sunny nooks and shelter nurst,
Buds all their early blooms display,
Where sunbeams show their faces first
And make when there the longest stay.

James Reeves
Selected Poems of John Clare
(London: Heinemann, 1954)

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