Ballad 'The spring returns the pewet screams'

I expect lots of folk know it, but I only discovered this Mary Joyce poem recently - as is often the case with a poet as prolific as Clare.  Must admit that it would have been in our "In the Shadows" Signed/Numbered Handmade Limited Edition book if we had encountered it sooner.  The book tells the story, in Clare's own words, of his largely illusory relationship with Mary.  I still have a few copies of the book should anyone want to acquire one.

The spring returns the pewet screams 

Loud welcomes to the dawning 

Though harsh & ill as now it seems 

Twas music last may morning 

The grass so green—the daisy gay 

Wakes no joy in my bosom 

Although the garland last mayday 

Wore not a finer blossom 

For by this bridge my Mary sat 

& praised the screaming plover 

As first to hail the day—when I 

Confessed myself her lover 

& at that moment stooping down 

I pluckt a daisy blossom 

Which smilingly she called her own 

May garland for her bosom 

& in her breast she hid it there 

As true loves happy omen 

Gold had not claimed a safer care 

I thought loves name was woman 

I claimed a kiss she laughed away 

I sweetly sold the blossom 

I thought myself a king that day 

My throne was beautys bosom 

& little thought an evil hour 

Was bringing clouds around me 

& least of all that little flower 

Would turn a thorn to wound me— 

She showed me after many days 

Though withered—how she prized it 

& then she leaned to wealthy praise 

& my poor love despised it 

Aloud the whirring pewet screams 

The daisy blooms as gaily 

But where is Mary—absence seems 

To ask that question daily 

No where on earth where joy can be 

To glad me with her pleasure 

Another name she owns—to me 

She is as stolen treasure 

When lovers part—the longest mile 

Leaves hope of some returning 

Though mines close bye—no hope the while 

Within my heart is burning 

One hour would bring me to her door 

Yet sad & lonely hearted 

If seas between us both should roar 

We were not further parted 

Though I could reach her with my hand 

Ere suns the earth goes under 

Her heart from mine—the sea & land 

Are not more far asunder 

The wind & clouds now here now there 

Hold not such strange dominion 

As womans cold perverted will 

& soon estranged opinion 

MP IV 34

Ann hath a way

Clare's copy of Shakespeare's works (1825) contains lines pretended to be from the pen of the poet to his wife, Anne Hathaway.  The book is further inscribed in Clare's hand 'John Clare / His Book / Novr 15. 1827'

The lines are in Clare's handwriting could well be of his own composition, for we know that he had imitated several of the early poets.  There has been much speculation over the years, but no-one is any further forward as far as I know, to proving or disproving Clare's authorship.  Very interesting...

Would ye be taught, ye feathered throng,   
With love’s sweet notes to grace your song,
To perce the heart with thrilling lay,        
Listen to mine Ann Hathaway!               
She hath a way to sing so clear,               
Phoebus might wondering stop to hear.      
To melt the sad, make blythe the gay,       
& nature charm, Ann hath a way.          
        She hath a way,                             
        Ann Hathaway                          
To breathe delight Ann hath a way!          
When envy’s breath and rancorous tooth,   
Do soil & bite fair worth & truth,         
& merit to distress betray                    
To soothe the heart, Anne hath a way         
She hath a way to chace despair,               
To heal all grief, to cure all care               
Turn foulest night, to fairest day                
Thou know’st fond heart Ann hath a way            
        She hath a way                           
        Ann Hathaway                           
To make grief bliss Ann hath a way.       
Talk not of gems, the orient list,              
The diamond, topaze, amethist,                
The emerald mild, the ruby gay,             
Talk of my gem, Ann Hathaway          
She hath a way with her bright eye,         
Their various colours to defye—                
The jewel she & the foil they,             
So sweet to look, Ann hath a way,          
        She hath a way                              
        Ann Hathaway                             
To shame bright eyes Anne hath a way!

Published in 'Northamptonshire Natural History Society & Field Club' 
Vol XXV - No 199 - September 1929

MP II 345

Winter Walk

The holly bush a sober lump of green
Shines through the leafless shrubs all brown & grey
& smiles at winter, be it e'er so keen
With all the leafy luxury of may
& o it is delicious when the day
In winters loaded garment keenly blows
& turns her back on sudden falling snows
To go where gravel pathways creep between
Arches of ever green that scarce let through
A single feather of the driven snow
& in the bitterest day that ever blew
The walk will find some places still & warm
Where dead leaves rustle sweet & give alarm
To little birds that flirt & start away

Northborough Sonnets
Carcenet (1995)

Brilliant book incidentally !