Jockey & Jinney or First Love

A Tale

“Thoughtless of beauty she was beautys self” 
  Thomson [The Seasons, Autumn l.207] 

Wereover many a stile neeth willows grey
The winding footpath leaves the public way
Free from the dusty din & ceasless chime
Of bustling waggons in the summer time
Crossing a brook—were braving storms in vain
Two willows fell & still for brigs remain
Corn field & clover closes leading down
In peacful windings to the neighbouring town

Were on bridge wall or rail or trees smooth bark
The passing eye is often stopt to mark
The artless vanity of village swains
Who spend a leisure hour with patient pains
& put to sculptors purposes the knife
To spin a cobweb for an after life
Nicking the letters of their little names
In rudest forms that untaught science frames

Pleasd with the feeblest shadow of renown
That warms alike the noble and the clown
Nigh to that path a sheltering hedge beside
A Cottage stands in solitary pride
Whose thatch with housleek flowers is yellowd oer
Where flock the bees from hives agen the door
Lonly & sweet as ever welcome spring
Neer fails its pleasant visitors to bring

Trees sheltering round it hide returning rooks
& twittering swallows seek its chimney nooks
In peace the sparrow chirps its joyous calls
& takes the feather to the crevisd walls
Nor fails the harmless robin & the wren
To seek such sweet secluded haunts agen
Beneath the eaves the martins still repair
& yearly build their mortard dwelling there

Here Jinney livd to grace the lovly scenes
Fair as the spring sweet blushing in her teens

Cottage Tales (Carcanet) 1993 (p 38

Clare reminding us of the power of simple words in the hands of a genius.  A 640 line poem that both publisher Taylor and supporter Mrs Emmerson loved but remained unpublished as it was 'too long'.

The Stone

The traveller journeying on the road alone
Sees by the highway side an ancient stone
& finds it pleasant in the weary day
To sit him down & wear an hour away
The strongest hand of mischief meddld more,
& failed to move or break or turn it o'er.
The man of feeling knew it when a boy
The only thing that nothing could destroy
& just the same as then it now appears
The fragment maybe of some hundred years
Beside the stone the wild flower gathers high
No grazing horse can bite or trample nigh
& smaller birds contented & alone
Can sit & shelter by the ancient stone

Pet MS A61 p60
(On a sheet addressed to Clare at Northborough)
Northborough Sonnets, p75

The Tramp

He eats a moments stoppage to his song 
The stolen turnip as he goes along
& hops along & heeds with careless eye 
The passing crowded stage coach reeling bye 
He talks to none but wends his silent way 
& finds a hovel at the close of day
Or under any hedge his house is made
He has no calling & he owns no trade
An old smoaked blanket arches oer his head
A whisp of straw or stubble makes his bed
He knows a lawless clan that claims no kin 
But meet & plunder on & feel no sin
No matter where they go or where they dwell 
They dally with the winds and laugh at hell

Pet MS A61 p49
Tibbles II 344


Very rarely do I post anything to this weblog apart from Poems and Prose of John Clare, but I recently came across 'Wintersmoon' and thought Clareans worldwide would like to be introduced to the book.  Here is the excerpt that jumped out of the book for me...

"But his great discovery was the accidental finding in the library at Wintersmoon a volume of John Clare.  At that time in 1919 Clare was a forgotten poet.  In the following years, thanks to the generous enthusiasm of Edmund Blunden, he was rediscovered and beautifully reissued, but to Wildherne that chance finding of a third edition of the Poems descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery seemed a miracle.  He devoured the book, discovered then that no one had ever heard of Clare, and further that no one found the poems anything but trivial and commonplace.  Even his father failed him here.

No matter.  He would keep that to himself, as it seemed to him he must keep almost everything that was of importance.  Hunting discovered for him the two volumes of The Village Minstrel, and this was of especial value to him because the first volume contained a steel engraving of Hilton's painting of Clare.  That strange, beautiful, pathetic face became now part of Wildherne's life.  It seemed to him that he had somewhere known him and been his friend.  He knew nothing as yet about his history, but he saw the tragedy in those eager gazing eyes and that gentle mouth.  To that man at least he could have bared his soul.

His love of England, of his father, of his home, of such poetry as Clare's, of the long naked shoulder of the Plain, of the weedy rubble under foot in country lanes, of sudden streams, of riding, of early mornings seen from the windows of Wintersmoon - all these (save possibly his love for his father) had been affections, not passions."

Hugh Walpole
Wintersmoon (1928)