from "The Travellers"

Being rather faint for want o' drink
(Yet not so sadly off for chink)
I went to ha' some beer
On entering in a house at hand
(As alehouses do mostly stand
To catch all passers by)
I told my wants & sat me down
'Gen two near neighbours o' the town
A talking very sly
At which so eager o' my beer
I first ga' little heed to hear
Untill I 'gan to see
Some queerish beckons come in vogue
& hear the name o' thief & rogue
& then a look at me

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)

Mid summer cushions

[Children's Midsummer Cushions round Clare's Grave on the Friday nearest his birthday, the 13th July.  BUT not 'field flowers' of course.)

Found this on Friday, whilst looking for something else... well known, but this is the original manuscript:

It is a very old tho not a very common custom now among villagers in summer time to stick a piece of green sward full of field flowers & place it as an ornament in their cottages which ornaments are called mid summer cushions & as these trifles are field flowers of humble pretentions & of various

I thought the the (sic) above cottage custom gave one an opportunity to select a little that was not inapplicable to the contents of the vol - not that I wish the reader to imagine that by so doing

I consider these poems in the light of flowers that can even ornament a cottage by their presence yet if the eye of beauty can feel any entertainment in their perusal I shall take it as the proudest of commendations & if the lover of simple images & rural scenery finds anything to commend my end & aim is gratified

(Written on both sides of a newspaper label which is addressed to
          Mr John Clare
          Mk. Deeping )

(Clare did write anything after 'various' in the first paragraph, or 'doing' in the second.  Pretty typical of much of his prose work.)

SONG : "Come beautiful maiden while autumn delays"

[Image : Anne Lee]

Come beautiful maiden while autumn delays
And the sunsets so sweet in the gold tinted west
While the fading beach tree sets the woods in a blaze

And the lark sings his song e're he sinks into rest
In Autumns gone by how fondly I press't thee
And loved thee sincerely, and so I do now
As I wandered along with thee ever near me
While the leaves they were fading on every bough

The sky rolls away with its ocean of clouds
The earth seems as ocean, as billows the grove
Woods roar like the sea or the ships flapping shrouds
But earth has warm places for beings that love
By the hedges my sweet one we'll wander unseen
Where the leaves of all colours are leaving the trees
Where the rush beds all ripple like water so green
And not a wild flower is in bloom on the lea's—

Yet love is as warm as the sun in the sky
And the winds they breath[e] music though ever so loud
The lark pipes its song in the fleecy clouds high
And the crow o'er the ploughed fields walks lonely and proud—
Then come my dear maiden enjoy the sweet morning
Down the walk in the meadows we'll wander away
There the bramble hedge hangs o'er the path like an awning
And the hedge sparrow hides at the bottom all day

Come in the fields then my first loved Mary
Come while the harp of the woods is in tune
Here neath the knotty old oak we will tarry
While the sun press the hedges as warm as in June
Though time passes on thy name is a pleasure
So come my sweet Mary we'll wander alone
And I'll tell thee the trials I've suffered, My treasure
Yet forget every one if you'll call me your own—

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

The Autumnal Morning (excerpt)

Wild woods ring in echos round
Wi many a lusty rural sound
Thro the day the wooping call
Of ramping nutters ceasless brawl
Weaving branches tearing down
Plucking nuts now ripe & brown
Boys as soon as loosd from school
Run to get their pockets full
& many a village clown [in extacys]
Rustling mong the faded trees
That bend beside her path is seen
Like the woodlands rural queen
Snatching hastes handfuls while she hies
To milking where her red cow lies
Venturing oer the woodland stile
Shepherds leave their sheep awhile
Dreading squalls & turning back
They snached a nut or 2 to crack
While the pindard* quirking out
As the lawyer squints about
Siezes on the chances found
& drives the straying sheep to pound
The Hedger who wi many a tap
Drives the stake down in the gap
Leaves his gaps & leaves his toil
& claims a share of autumns spoil
In short as full as it can snive*
The hamlets dead & woods alive
The once so still & silent shade
Is now a scene of uproar made

(lines 55 to 84)
'Bird's Nest: Poems by John Clare'
Anne Tibble (Ashington: Mid-NAG, 1973)

*Pindard = The impounder straying livestock
*Snive = Cram or stuff

See also my post ‘Gleaners or Thieves?’ for a piece by Professor Eric Robinson on, amongst other things, nutting :

From "Solitude"...

A minute's length, a zephyr's breath,
Sport of fate, and prey of death,
Tyrant to-day, to-morrow gone,
Distinguish'd only by a stone,
That fain would have the eye to know
Pride's better dust is lodg'd below—
While worms like me are mouldering laid,
With nothing set to say ‘they're dead’—
All the difference, trifling thing,
That notes at last the slave and king.
As wither'd leaves, life's bloom when stopt,
That drop in autumn, so they dropt;
As snails, which in their painted shell
So snugly once were known to dwell,
When in the schoolboy's care we view
The pleasing toys of varied hue,
By age or accident are flown,
The shell left empty, tenant gone—
So pass we from the world's affairs,
And careless vanish from its cares;
So leave, with silent, long farewell,
Vain life—as left the snail his shell.

(lines 213 to 234)
The Poems of John Clare
ed. J. W. Tibble (2 volumes, Dent, 1935)


[Image: Peter de Wint]

Summer is gone & all the merry noise
Of busy harvest in its labouring glee
The shouts of toil the laughs of gleaning boys
Sweeing at dinner hours on willow tree
The cracking whip the scraps of homely song
Sung by the boys that drive the loaded wain
The noise of geese that haste & hiss along
For corn that litters in the narrow lane
Torn from the waggon by the hedge row trees
Tinkles of wetting scythes amid the grain
The bark of dogs stretched at their panting ease
Watching the stouk were mornings dinner lay
All these have past & silence at her ease
Dreams autumns mellancholly life away

Selected Poems of John Clare (1964)
Leonard Clark (ed)


‘Go wipe your shoes’ says mistress shrew
To Hodge who up for's dinner drew
‘'Tis'n't fitting that such hogs as you
‘Shou'd come into a house’
‘Why not’ says hodge—‘if thats the case
‘I cant come in a better place
‘For surely there is no disgrace
For hogs to herd wi' Sows

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)

On Mr -------- Locking up the Public Pump

To lock up Water—must undoubted stand
Among the Customs of a Christian land
An Action quite Uncommon and unknown
Or only practic'd in this place alone
A Thing unheard of yet in Prose or Rhyme
And only witness'd at this present time
—But some there is—a stain to Christian Blood
That cannot bear to do a Neighbour good
—No!—to be kind and use another well
With them's a torment ten times worse then hell

Such Fiends as these whose charity wornt give
The begging Wretch a single chance to live
—Who to nor Cats nor Dogs one crumb bestows
Who even grut[c]h the droppings of their Nose
—Its my Opinion of such Marngrel curs
Whom Nature scorns to own and Man abhors
That could they find a f---t of any use
They'd even burst before they'd set it loose!

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)