Come let us sit down on this baulk of mown hay...

[Image: 'Harvest Scene" - John Linnell (1792-1882)]

This poem has haunted me since I transcribed it from the Archives around 18 months ago.  Anne Lee and I published it in "In the Fields" (Arbour Editions 2015) but that edition is long sold out.  So I am glad to let readers of this weblog into my secret passion.

Come let us sit down on this baulk of mown hay
I love in such places to sweeter delay
Were wheat on one side us nods down with its ear
& beans on the other in blossom appear

Perfuming the lare of the partridge that lies
In the wood shadows basking their forest supplys
& hare - heres a beaten bath tracks his retreat
Feels timidly safer in his harbour of wheat

On this mown baulk no doubt he oft ventures to play
When a grasshoppers rustle might fright him away
How sweet and how lovely such places appear
I cannot help wishing our cottage was here

With the wild bees for neighbours the whole summer long
& the lark ever near us a piping his song
With beans in full blossom close up to our door
& cows in the distance lowing loud on the moor

With grasshoppers leaping were cattle might roam
& partridges calling at night by our home
Were we might sit at night by our window & see
The timid hare feed & at play on the lea

I lie in our chamber & list if we please
The nightingale song in yon thick spinney trees
While evening kept deeping its shadows of brown
& the shepherd boy sing from his toils to the town

How sweet we might find it & doubtless as sweet
To that boy would it be thats now tracking the wheat
For the corn poppy red as a fox hunters coat
& cockle flowers pale of a less showy sort

& blue caps as rich in their sweet summer dye
As the blue eyes of love or the deep bearing sky
No doubt if he knew what our wishes was at
While hes wreathg that garland to stick in his hat

Hed happily join us with excited delight
To have his hut here all these pleasures among
With all his hearts pastimes forever in sight
& be the field tenant the whole summer long

Pet MS A31 p158R

Song: O Edinborough Katy’s a beautiful girl

O Edinborough Katy’s a beautifull girl
Her eyes bright as sunshine her teeth white as pearl
Her waist little mair then the span of baith han's
Yet her bosom & shoulders are broader then man's
This Edinborough Katys a beautiful girl
Her eyes bright as sunshine her teeth white as pearl
As soft as a cushion a armfull to span
With a bosom & shoulders as broad as a man

O Edinborough Katy she bluims like a lily
The pride o' a' Scotland the pride o' her Willy
Is Edinbro' Katy as weel as the town
& she waulks on the mountain while the sun gangs down
O Endinbro Katy's a beautiful girl
Her eye is rich auburn her teeth white as pearl
O Edinburough Katy's as red as a rose
As down the fair streets of the city she goes

O Edinburgh Katy[s] suns twa three & twenty
The stranger he luiks on her beauty sae dainty
& scarcely believes her as yet in her teens
& she scarcely can think what the strangers luik means
For Katy cant bear to be speerd at bye ony
Her shoulders sae broad & her bosom sae bonny
This Edinburough Katy's the lily sae dear
& the flower o' the city at the Spring o' the year

LP I 232

A little 'Scottish' Clare for Burns Birthday today
(The spelling and punctuation? typical Clare)

The Flood

[Image: Kathryn Parsons]

On Lolham Brigs in wild & lonely mood
Ive seen the winter floods their gambols play
Through each old arch that trembled while I stood
Bent oer its wall to watch the dashing spray
As their old stations would be washed away
Crash came the ice against the jambs & then
A shudder jarred the arches—yet once more
It breasted raving waves & stood agen
To wait the shock as stubborn as before
—White foam brown crested with the russet soil
As washed from new ploughed lands—would dart beneath
Then round & round a thousand eddies boil
On tother side—then pause as if for breath
One minute—& ingulphed—like life in death

Whose wrecky stains dart on the floods away
More swift then shadows in a stormy day
Things trail & turn & steady—all in vain
The engulphing arches shoot them quickly through
The feather dances flutters & again
Darts through the deepest dangers still afloat
Seeming as faireys whisked it from the view
& danced it oer the waves as pleasures boat
Light hearted as a merry thought in may—
Trays—uptorn bushes—fence demolished rails
Loaded with weeds in sluggish motion stray
Like water monsters lost each winds & trails
Till near the arches—then as in affright
It plunges—reels—& shudders out of sight

Waves trough—rebound—& fury boil again
Like plunging monsters rising underneath
Who at the top curl up a shaggy main
A moment catching at a surer breath
Then plunging headlong down & down—& on
Each following boil the shadow of the last
& other monsters rise when those are gone
Crest their fringed waves—plunge onward & are past
—The chill air comes around me ocean blea
From bank to bank the water strife is spread
Strange birds like snow spots oer the huzzing sea
Hang where the wild duck hurried past & fled
—On roars the flood—all restless to be free
Like trouble wandering to eternity

MP IV 234

"The floods come oer the meadow leas"

Clare in a dark, dark mood as the weather, although autumnal, seems to him hardly to mirror the realisation and bleakness of his inner loss -- from Autumn 1841.

The floods come oer the meadow leas
The dykes are full & brimming
Field furrows reach the horses knees
Where wild ducks oft are swimming
The skies are black the fields are bare
The trees their coats are loosing
The leaves are dancing in the air
The sun its warmth refusing

Brown are the flags & fading sedge
& tanned the meadow plains
Bright yellow is the osier hedge
Beside the brimming drains
The crows sit on the willow tree
The lake is full below
But still the dullest thing I see
Is self that wanders slow

The dullest scenes are not so dull
As thoughts I cannot tell
The brimming dykes are not so full
As my heart’s silent swell
I leave my troubles to the winds
With none to share a part
The only joy my feeling finds
Hides in an aching heart

Child Harold (1150 - 1173)
The Living Year 1841

Tim Chilcott (1999)

The pelting storm...

Well, I can't yet be certain, but I came across this whilst in the archives this week, and I do not think it has surfaced before.  However, I'm making no claims, I just really love the world that it instantly conjures into existence.  Clare in about 1827-ish (I think).

The boy bends into the pelting storm
With folded arms & hand held over his nose
Then turns his back to catch his breath again
& button[s] up his coat or slouch his hat
To hide his eyes or shake the gathered snow
From off his garments then with couraged warmed
He turns about & faces it again

Pet MS B3 p28

A couple more short verses on this manuscript page, which I am still trying to find in the various indices.  Watch this space!

The Shepherds Calendar

Just some of the lines from 'January' that his publisher John Taylor cut from Clare's poem.  So very much NOT the (published) 1827 text.  What did Taylor have against them?  

I have split into 'verses' of eight lines simply to aid reading on a screen!

While labour still pursues his way

& braves the tempest as he may

The t[h]resher first thro darkness deep

Awakes the mornings winter sleep

Scaring the owlet from her prey

Long before she dreams of day

That bli[n]ks above head on the snow

Watching the mice that squeaks below

& foddering boys sojourn again

By ryhme hung hedge & frozen plain

Shuffling thro the sinking snows
Blowing his fingers as he goes
To where the stock in bellowings hoarse

Call for their meals in dreary close

& print full many a hungry track

Round circling hedge that guards the stack

Wi higgling tug he cuts the hay

& bares the forkfull loads away

& morn & evening daily throws

The little heaps upon the snows

The shepherd too in great coat wrapt

& straw bands round his stockings lapt

Wi plodding dog that sheltering steals
To shun the wind behind his heels

Takes rough & smooth the winter weather
& paces thro the snow together
While in the fields the lonly plough
Enjoys its frozen sabbath now
& horses too pass time away
In leisures hungry holiday
Rubbing & lunging round the yard

Dreaming no doubt of summer sward

MP I 3