[Image : 'Crow' - Carry Akroyd]

The village sleeps in mist from morn till noon
And if the sun wades thro tis wi a face
Beamless and pale and round as if the moon
When done the journey of its nightly race
Had found him sleeping and supplyd his place
For days the shepherds in the fields may be
Nor mark a patch of sky—blind fold they trace
The plains that seem wi out a bush or tree
Wistling aloud by guess to flocks they cannot see
The timid hare seems half its fears to loose
Crouching and sleeping neath its grassy lare
And scarely startles tho the shepherd goes
Close by its home and dogs are barking there
The wild colt only turns around to stare
At passers bye then naps his hide again
And moody crows beside the road forbeer
To flye tho pelted by the passing swain
Thus day seems turned to night and trys to wake in vain

The Shepherd's Calendar, with Village Stories, and Other Poems (1827)
'November' (lines 1-18)

Effusion (excerpt)

Ah little did I think in times thats past
By summer burnt or numbd by winters frost
Delving the ditch a livlihood to earn
Or lumping corn out in a dusty barn
With aching bones returning home at night
& sitting down with weary hand to write
Ah little did I think as then unknown
Thou artless ryhmes I even blusht to own
Woud be one day applauded & approvd
By learning notic'd & by genius lovd
God knows my hopes were many but my pain
Dampt all the prospects which I hopd to gain
I hardly dard to hope—thou corner chair
In which Ive oft slung back in deep despair
Hadst thou expression thou midst easy tell
The pains & all that I have known too well
Twoud be but sorrows tale yet still twoud be
A tale of truth & passing sweet to me
How oft upon my hand Ive laid my head
& thought how poverty deformd our shed
Lookd on each parents face I feign had cheerd
Where sorrow triumphd & pale want appeard
& sighd & hopd & wishd some day woud come
When I might bring a blessing to their home

The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems (2 volumes, 1821)


Lo! Autumn's come—wheres now the woodlands green?
The charming Landscape? and the flowrey plain?
All all are fled and left this motly scene
Of fading yellow tingh'd with russet stain
Tho these seem desolatley wild and drear
Yet these are spring to what we still shall find
Yon trees must all in nakednes appear
'Reft of their folige by the blustry wind
Just so 't'will fare with me in Autumns life
Just so I'd wish—but may the trunk and all
Die with the leaves—nor taste that wintry strife
Where Sorrows urge—but still impede the fall

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

from "The Wish"

Ah scenes so happy void of all controul
Your seeming prospects heightens up my soul;
E'en now so bright the fairy vision flies,
I mark its flight as with possesing eyes
But thats in vain—to hope the wish was gave
It clogs the mind and binds the heart a slave.
Tis nothing but a wish one vents at will
Still vainly wishing and be wanting still
For when a wishing mind enjoys the view
He dont expect it ever will come true,
Yet when he cherishes the pleasing thought
He still keeps wishing till he wants for nought,
And so will I—My eyes shall wander oer
A Pleasent prospect, Acres just threescore,
And this the measure of my whole domains
Should be divided into woods and plains,
O'er the fair plains should roam a single cow
For not one foot should ever want the plough
This would be toiling so I'd never crave
One single thing where labour makes a slave.
Tho health from exercise is said to spring
Foolhardy toil that health will never bring.
But 'stead of health—dire ills a numerous train
Will shed their torments with afflictive pain.
Be as it will I hold in spite of strife
That health ne'er rises from a labouring life

(lines 177 to 202)

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

from "Walks in the Woods"

[Image : Anne Lee]

It doth one's spirits good to go
Through beds of fern that fan below.
The rustle that the branches make
While giving way to let me through,
The leaves that for a moment shake
As out a blackbird hasty flew—
Oh, there is stillness in the noise
That brings to quiet many joys.
Yes, as the bouncing branches start
And backward hurry to their place,
A rapture rushes at the heart,
A joy comes flushing in the face;
I feel so glad I can't explain
My joy, and on I rush again.
And now I meet a stoven full
Of clinging woodbines all in flower;
They look so rich and beautiful—
Though loath to spoil so sweet a bower—
My fingers itch to pull them down
To take a handful to the town.
So then I mix their showy bloom
With many pleasant-looking things,
And fern leaves in my posy come;
And then so beautifully clings
The heart-leaved bryony round the tree,
It too must in a posy be.
Enchanter's nightshade, some few sprigs
—So sweet a spot it blossoms in—
And within reach the leafiest twigs
Of oak, if such my reach can win;
And still unwilling to give o'er
I stoop till I can hold no more.

(lines 113 to 144)
The Poems of John Clare
ed. J. W. Tibble
(2 volumes, Dent, 1935)

I saw thee in lifes witching hour...

[Image: Anne Lee]

I saw thee in lifes witching hour
  I thought thee all divine
& sweeter still thou fairey flower
  Frail hope bespoke her mine
But why need I repent the day
  Which years have left with thee
Since one frail spring scarce stopt to say
  That hope can never be

The world full early frowned on me
  & shaped our lives contrary
It dashed the hopes I had for thee
  & made thee haughty Mary
For still methinks had I been born
  To meet lifes smiles so early
Pride neer had made me treat with scorn
  A name I loved so dearly

I felt in times now fled and gone
  By many a cheery token
The links that our hearts seem one
  Should not so soon be broken
But life a seeming shower at best
    Is nothing that it seems
& dreams of love were hope will rest
  Are nothing else but dreams

Poems of the Middle Period
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson
Volumes I-II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)

"What is Joy..."

[Image of Clare's Grave : Ann Lee]

A recent discovery, hidden in Clare's Prose...

& what is joy or bliss or happiness
Mere trifling parents of a laugh or smile
That are but cares decked in a different dress
To cheat our hearts & sooth our hopes awhile
Mere sabbaths in lifes agonizing toil
To catch our breath while in its style we dwell
Prolonging (?life) by shadows that beguile
For joys beginnings have one tale to tell
& bring their end a heart  ach[e] & far[e]well