Song (from Child Harold)

When Clare wrote this poem - in 1841 - Mary Joyce had been dead for 3 years.  She, of course, was never his wife.

Did I know where to meet thee
Thou dearest in life
How soon would I greet thee
My true love & wife
How soon would I meet thee
At close of the day

Though cares would still cheat me
If Mary would meet me
I'd kiss her sweet beauty & love them away

And when evening discovers
The sun in the West
I long like true lovers
To lean on thy breast
To meet thee my dearest —
Thy eyes beaming blue

Absence pains the severest
Feel Mary's the dearest
And if Mary's absence — how can I be true

How dull the glooms cover
This meadow & fen
Where I as a lover
Seek Mary again
But silence is teasing
Wherever I stray

There's nothing seems pleasing
Or aching thoughts easing
Though Mary lives near me — she seems far away

O would these gales murmur
My love in her ear
Or a bird’s note inform her
While I linger here
But nature contrary
Turns night into day

No bird — gale — or fairy
Can whisper to Mary
To tell her who seeks her—while Mary's away

(Lines 567 - 602)

The Oxford Authors: John Clare
ed. Eric Robinson and David Powell (Oxford, 1984)

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