Ballad: 'When we met last love on midsummer even' (final verse)

Ah little I thought when I kisst & caressd thee
‘Good bye’ from thy lips wi such omens did fall
Ah little I thought as I lookd back & blest thee
That look was in earnest for once & for all
‘Good bye’ how
it fell on the breeze of the even
Een silence in sighs seekd to murmur the strain
& fancy now thinks as our last look was leaving
‘Good bye’ it repeated yell neer meet again

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



She tied up her few things
And laced up her shoe strings
And put on her bonnet worn through at the crown
Her apron tied tighter
Than snow her caps whiter
She lapt up her earnings and left our old town

The Dog barked again
All the length o’ his chain
And licked her hand kindly and huffed her good bye
Old hens prated loudly
The Cock strutted proudly
And the horse at the gate turned to let her go bye

The Thrasher man stopping
The old barn floor wopping
Wished oer the door cloth her luck and no harm
Bees hummed round the thistle
While the red Robins whistle
And she just one look on the old mossy farm

‘Twas Michaelmas season
They’d got corn and pears in
And all the Fields cleared save some ru[c]kings and tythes
Cute piegon flocks muster
Round beans shelling cluster
And done are the whettings o reap hooks and scythes

Next years flowers a springing
Will miss Jinneys singing
She opened her Bible and turned a leaf down
In her bosoms forewarnings
She lapt up her earnings
And ere the suns set ‘ll be in her own town

Edmund Blunden (ed),
"Madrigals and Chronicles:
Being newly found Poems written by John Clare"
(Beaumont Press, 1924)

Recorded by Vikki Clayton as "Singing Jinny" on her 1993 CD of Clare songs.

If you were a farm labourer in the early 19th century, you'd be thinking about moving to another employer at Michaelmas.  The traditional Quarter Day, known in the Anglican calendar as the feast of St. Michael, or Michaelmas was the time when farmers hired shepherds, plowmen, labourers and many other agricultural workers.  In this Clare poem we encounter Jinny, who is moving back to her home town... I have always wondered about the 'back story'?  Why she was moving?

Just as mornings rosy lass (excerpt)

One of the poems from our latest collection "The Poet in Love"
only previously published in the Clarendon Editions. 
Image by Anne Lee.

Just as mornings rosy lass
Unbeds from sleep & gins to dress
Just as draws her curtains bye
How sweet to watch her opening eye
As her cheek is glowing warm
& her finely turned arm
First unfolding on the stretch
Her mantles crystal sheets to reach

Sweet is then the graceful folds
As round her lovly limbs it rolls
Half revealing to the sight
That seat of rapture & delight
In beautys melting mingling hue
Skin so white & veins so blue
Heaveing on the ravishd eye
Warming charms of extasy
Till it fades in witching pale
Neath a seeming swelling vale
Of morning while it 'lopes away
Mid the modest blush of day

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

from 'The Village Funeral'

Who is but grievd to see the fatherless
Stroll with their rags unnotisc'd thro the street
What eye but moistens at their sad distress
& sheds compassions tear where ere they meet
Yon Workhouse stands as their asylum now
The place where poverty demands to live
Where parish bounty scouls his scornful brow
& grudges the scant fare he's forc'd to give—

O may I dye before I'm doom'd to seek
That last resource of hope but ill suply'd
To claim the humble pittance once a week
Which justice forces from disdainful pride
Where the lost orphan lowly bending weeps
Unnotisc'd by the heedless as they pass
There the grave closes where a mother sleeps
With brambles platted on the tufted grass

Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820)