Content thy home be mine

Content thy home be mine
Do not my suit disdain
They who prefer the worlds to thine
Shall find it false & vain
From broken hopes & storms I flye
To hide me in thy peaceful sky

The flatterers meet with smiles
The cunning find their friends
Without I made my pilgrimage         
& so met small amends
I looked on fame as merits plea
Twas spring but winter frowned on me

To cringe to menial slaves
To worship titled power
To bend the knee to knaves
The price of earthly dower
Is what I neer was taught to pay
So empty [that] Ive turned away

Where pleasing is to flatter
Where loving is to hate
To praise what we at heart abuse
In love & church & state
This is the worlds but not my game
So poor I am without the shame

Tho flattery findeth friends
In every grade & state
& telling truth offends
The lowly & the great
Truth when the worst is bye shall rise
When follys vapour stinks & flyes

Prides pomps are shadows all
& Titles honours toys
Great births in merits oft are small
& all their praise but noise
Rainbows upon the skyes of May
Fade soon but scarce so soon as they

Then sweet content be thine to call
My sorrows as thy due
For grief is natural to all
As is to night the dew
As disappointed hopes decay
My heart shall struggle & be gay

As hopes from earth shall disappear
With thee Ill not despair
For thou canst look at heaven & see
The vagrant waiting there
& while thou smilest I shall see 
Thy lives last gift the best shall be

An amazing poem I transcribed in the Peterborough Archives. I could not find it published anywhere, so with Professor Eric's encouragement I published it myself in 'Hidden Treasures' (2016) - now in its 2nd edition (2019) - £6 (post free to the UK).

Early Morning Ploughboy

I thought I was up sooner than usual & before morning was on the stir out of doors     but I am pleasantly disappointed by the whistle of the ploughboy past the window making himself merry & trying to make the dull weather dance to a very pleasant tune which I know well & yet cannot recollect the song      but there are hundreds of these pleasant tunes familiar to the plough & the splashing stream & the little fields of spring that have lain out the brown rest of winter & grew into mirth with the sprouting grain    the cheep(?) of the sky lark    & the old songs & ballads that even accompany field(?) happiness in following the plough – by neither head(?) known   or noticed    by all the world beside

Pet MS B6 p99

The Tale of Fisher Man

A flight of fancy from John Clare
(recently uncovered)


When we recieve a favour from fortune we ought to make use of it as if it was the last we should meet with


Pet MS A18 p R254

Pet MS A42 p118 has ‘great’ inserted before ‘favour



A young fisherman who lived near the sea was very industrious & very thriving in his industry   but he thirsted after more wealth the possesion of which was his happ[i]ness     he had a cottage & land but he thought happiness dwelt in a pallace    who when he did ever so well he wished to do better     he was ever merry as a fisherman but he thought he should be happy as a gentleman


& rowing [on the sea] full of these fancys of [wealth]     one fine morning he   by accident   meet with an old man in a very old fashioned boat     the young man was going speedily with wind & tide but the old man was going as speedily against both  & the young man was astonished & thought if he had such a boat he should be next to a gentleman     ‘should you’    said the old man   tho the young fellows thoughts never rose so high as a whisper   yet the old man knew    & ‘if you should like my boat’   continued he   ‘you shall have it in exchange for yours & if [you] mind you may then very soon be a gentleman tho for my part I would rather have your lot then that of a gentlemans    for remember’ said the old man ‘the gods give mortals the liberty to amass riches but leave the use of them entirely to their own discretion &what is one mans food is another mans poison   as wants increase with means & temptations increse with pleasures’ – 


‘I change’   said the young [man] cutting the old mans story [short]   & the old man laughed loud as he leapt in to the young mans boat & as the young man got into his   the old man shook his head & bid him good speed – when they instantly parted the old man sped [at] a horse gallop with wind & tide   & the young man at double speed against both     this was the very contrary way to which he wished to proceed & he insatantly seized the rudder to manage the boat    when to his utter astonishment the boat shot plump down into the bottom of the sea as fast & head foremost as a race horse could gallop down the steep side of mount Atlas [into the valleys beneath it]    & fall as far    went the young man down & down until at last he rested on the sands & bottom of the immense ocean


he was astonished even to fear & saw the waters for miles above him & miles about him & yet he breathed as free from choaking as he did before he started [while dibbing cabbages in his garden]     how it could be he could not tell but so it was & as his eyes began to clear of their supprise as began to look about him to see the strange country he was in     & every thing was new & nothing like what he had seen before     there were large forrests as high as his own wood but leafey & when he came to examine them they were of pearls & corral    there were monsters of extradinary size & shape 


& what he had never expected to have accosted a lady approached him   not very handsome to be sure   for she had green hair   red eyes   & teeth of odd shape   yet she seemed young & well shaped     he accosted her but she seemed not to understand him & stooping as if to amuse her self by picking up things from the sand   she offered him a handful    & they were guineas & Portugal dollars & bright as if minted but yesterday     


he lay all this time leaning on his rudder & accepting them eagerly & was for leaping out to get more   but the moment he left the rudder    that moment   the boat sprang upward as light as an eggshell & was at the top of the sea in a thought    & at the mooring before his own cottage before he could think twice about the matter     as he leapt ashore with his money which    tho the lady held it in her hand    was as much as he could haul out in an old fish crail


his wife grew fearful at the sight of so much money & more fearful when he related the story   so he resolved not to let her know the extent of his treasure     he counted & counted & all to no purpose for it was without numbe[r]   & without end     so before he went [to] bed a thought struck him that the old man might call again & exchange boat[s]   & he instantly resolved to secure the rudder to make use of another oppertunity to get more    for tho he was now a gentleman    another such a hawl might make him a Lord     & the rudder was secured accordingly


he now got weary of fishing & looked out for amusments suitable to his station     his altered condition soon got into full cry   like a fox chase    & the county round was running over with 

guesses & surmises    for his money was wasted in foolish bargains & scattered like chaff before the wind   as he knew there was plenty [more] where that came from     he bought a horse & then he coveted a gig    & then he resolved on a coach      the very next sea voyage he made in his new boat   & he determed after a while to build a ship & become [a] merchant    but these large thoughts & extravagant notions just grew up in his thoughts as the last of his treasures became exausted     


so he out with his rudder & off to sea   where he was not long in dileberating before he laid hold of the rudder & down he went to the bottom   swifter then a shooting star from the sky     but this was not the spot on which he at first alighted   nor could he find it if he tryed    as there was nothing on the sea to mark – the scenes here was very different     the monsters were more numorious but much less & the groves


< there is a break in the manuscript at this point >


It resumes…


her journey     so she set out on her travels & passed for a fine woman     she took plenty of money & cloaths with her & even thought it rudeness to offer kindness without asking & never took it     so she went on & never talked to any one & thought of nothing but the prince & the journey     she soon found herself in the great forrest & when she could get no further she did as her sister bid her   but the bushes would not part & the brambles did not heed her fine cloaths   but tore her gown & would not let her go on     she did not know what to do & tryed to get back   when a great beast rushed past her & shook the trees & broke down the bushes     she was afraid but went on & met the old man


she soon got sight of the fine house & troops of men passed her & took no notice    & when she got there a man opened the gate    before she could ask anybody   & led her into the palace     what she saw would have written a book & she would soon have been lost   but a guide showed her the way     she thought she saw the old man go out of one of the rooms   who had got there before her


she was surprised to find a garden in the middle of the hall   & finer flowers then she had ever seen   when a fine man came out of a harbour & took her by the hand & bade her sit down     he talked to her as if he had known her for years & bade her make herself at home     & read her delightful stories out of books     every thing was brought [to] her before she seemed to want it   & when he took her into the house the servants waited on her as if she had been there before     & when she got up in a morning the finest dresses where laid ready   & she never knew how they were brought   & books where always laid on the table to read     the prince told her to take no notice of any body & she only thought of home now & then   & said nothing


Pet MS A18 p R254

Pet MS A42 p18

Pet MS B9 p51-3



For the tale of fisherman


It is a common saying that our wants increases with our means but it is a truer fact that our wants increase faster then our means -- & leave us in debt.


Pet MS A18 p R254


He was always thinking about being a gentleman & he thought if he could find a few pounds in a wreck to bring him a new suit of cloaths he should be one   & he soon found a treasure that not only bought him a suit   but purchases a lease of his cottage in the bargain   & now all that he wanted to make him a gentleman was anew boat     in this he was not long dissapointed for { blank ] old man


Pet MS A18 p R254


O now the crimson east its fire streak burning 

Tempts me to wander neath the blushing morn 

Winding the zig zag lane turning & turning 

As winds the crooked fences wilderd thorn 

O wheres the eye can gaze upon the dawn 

That flushes yon blue sky of cloudless heaven 

& gilds the prospect round below—what eye 

Can look upon the beautys morn has given 

& look unmovd, sure neer a soul thats living 

The soul must be extinct who passes bye 

I cannot pass the very bramble weeping 

Neath dewy tear drops that its spears surround 

Like harlots mockery on the wan cheek creeping 

Gilding the poison that is meant to wound 

I cannot pass the bent ere gales have shaken 

Its transient crowning off each point adorning 

But all the feelings of my soul awaken 

To own the witcheries of most lovley morning 

EP II 213

from 'Walking with John Clare'

Arbour Editions (2018)

The 'Glorious' 12th? One of Clare's many letters to a Newspaper



Vestminster Pit, Sunday


            Sar – To-day bein vat a Lawyer’s Clarke as cums to my Pit calls a “die ease num” (by vich I suppose he means a day on vich my bear and bajjer’s has an easy time of it,) I’ve mended the old pen as I rote all my former yepissels with, and have tuk it up to call yure attenshon to summut as I hav jest red in the Bishop’s paper.  Here is it.


GRAND SHOOTING PARTY – Friday se’nnights and Monday week were slaughtering days in the home coverts at Whersted Lodge, the seat of Lord Granville, near Ipswich.   On Friday there were killed with guns, 2 partridges, 151 pheasants, 6 woodcocks, 70 hares, and 36 rabbits – total 265.  And on Monday, with 12 guns, 4 partridges, 433 pheasants, 4 woodcocks, 320 hares, and 58 rabits – total 819.  Grand total, 1,084.


            The following list has been handed to us, as containing the number of heads of games killed on Monday by the NOBLEMEN and GENTLEMEN respectively.  It does not exactly correspond with the statement above, which we have no doubt is correct, but we suppose it included THE WOUNDED BIRDS, which were not picked up till the next day!


Duke of York                          128  

Duke of Wellington                120 

Lord Granville                        48       

Hon. Mr. Greville                  120       

Hon. Mr. De Roos                 105       

Hon. Mr. Anson                     88                   

Hon. Mr. Lamb                     78

Hon. Mr. Montague              70

Hon. Mr. Ponsonby               55

Hon. Mr. Arbuthnot              26

Sir Robt. Harland, bart           45

Rev. Mr. Capper                     41

Total                                       924


            Vel sir, vat do you think of that?  Theres 819 poor annemels kild in vun day, and 105 VOUNDED – picked up in the voods the next day – left to die of broken legs and vings!


            And vat sort of annemels vas they, Ser? – tame annemals, vat vas fed in “the Home Coverts” till they was as tame as barn dore fouls; pretty annemals, Ser, innocent annemals; annemals as feel as much as Mr. MARTIN.  And hoo vas it as kild and vounded them, Ser?  Vy a Rial Dook, a common Dook, a Lord, seven HONNORABELS, a Barrownite, and a REVEREND Minister of that religgon, vich Mrs. Fry told vun of our chaps tuther day in Newgate was a religgon of kindness, of mercy, and of luv?


            And vy did they commit this “slaughter?” – Vat vas there motiv for this butchery?  Ile tell you, Ser. – Pleshure! Greet pleshure, Ser!  There was the pleshure of eatin a few of em; there was the pleshure of laying rich people, as havvent got no “home coverts”, under the sort of Hobblegashon vich they think it to reserve a present of game from a Dook or a Lord; there was the pleshure of boastin about there shuting, and of coutin the number as died at vunce, and the number as died by degrees in the voods; there was the pleshure of lettin the Rail Dook shute the most!  -- that’s a pleshure as may be varth sumthing sum day, and, last of all there vas the pleshure of having their names in the Newspaper.  I dont say much of that, for its a pleshure to me, and yure verry good to indulge me in it.


            But I jest vant to ask MR. MARTIN vat he thinks of all this?  I no he vont do nothin, but I vant to no vat he thinks?  I jest vant to no vether he thinks there’s any jestice in his Hact of Parliament, vich settels a donkey-boy in a jiffey, and lets all them NOBS commit as much cruelty as ever they like?  Lord, O Lord, vat at a wurld this is!  Here’s he as will be the Had of the Law; here’s Dooks, Lords, Barrownites, and Honnorabels, all law-makers themselves; here’s Parson-Magistrates, as upholds the laws and executes em,  as preeches againste cruelty, and sends a poor man to the mill for pickin up a ded hare vich had dies of a mortificashun caused by vun of theer own guns.


            Here’s a set of Rial, Nobel, Honnorabel, Vurthy, Reverrent Gentlemen, going out to a “slaughtering day in the home coverts” to kill 819 annemals, as never did em eny harm, and to vound 105 more, all for pleshure.  And here is the Bishops Paper, vat rites for the shuvvels hats, and vat so often blackards “the ignorant, cruel, feroshous, lower-orders,” publisahin a fine boastien descriptishon of the “slaughtering day,” and calculatin the number as vas kild outrite and the number as died of slow lingerrin pain in the voods, and vas picked up the next day “by the Noblemen and Gentlemen!”


            A happy new yeer to you, ser, and if you puts this in, you’ll be, as yushall, a frend to the Poor  -- Yure most obedient sarvent to command,


                                    ‘CHARLEY EASTUP’


Far spread the moory ground a level scene
Bespread with rush & one eternal green

That never felt the rage of blundering plough

Though centuries wreathed spring blossoms on its brow

Autumn met plains that stretched them far away

In unchecked shadows of green brown & grey


Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene

No fence of ownership crept in between

To hide the prospect from the gazing eye

Its only bondage was the circling sky

A mighty flat undwarfed by bush & tree

Spread its faint shadow of immensity


& lost itself which seemed to eke its bounds

In the blue mist the horizons edge surrounds

Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours

Free as spring clouds & wild as forest flowers

Is faded all—a hope that blossomed free

& hath been once as it no more shall be


Enclosure came & trampled on the grave

Of labours rights & left the poor a slave

& memorys pride ere want to wealth did bow

Is both the shadow & the substance now

The sheep & cows were free to range as then

Where change might prompt nor felt the bonds of men


Cows went & came with every morn and night

To the wild pasture as their common right

& sheep unfolded with the rising sun

Heard the swains shout & felt their freedom won

Tracked the red fallow field & heath & plain

Or sought the brook to drink & roamed again


While the glad shepherd traced their tracks along

Free as the lark & happy as her song

But now alls fled & flats of many a dye

That seemed to lengthen with the following eye

Moors losing from the sight far smooth & blea

Where swopt the plover in its pleasure free


Are banished now with heaths once wild & gay

As poets visions of lifes early day

Like mighty giants of their limbs bereft

The skybound wastes in mangled garbs are left

Fence meeting fence in owners little bounds

Of field & meadow large as garden-grounds


In little parcels little minds to please

With men & flocks imprisoned ill at ease

For with the poor scared freedom bade farewell

& fortune-hunters totter where they fell

They dreamed of riches in the rebel scheme

& find too truly that they did but dream


MP II 347

Dancing oak trees round & round

[Image: Anne Lee]

The wood is sweet - I love it well
In spending there my leisure hours
To seek the snail its painted shell
& look about for curious flowers
Or neath the hazels leafy thatch
On a stulp or mossy ground
Little squirrels gambols watch
Dancing oak trees round & round

Green was the shade - I love the woods
When autumns wind is mourning loud
To see the leaves float on the floods
Dead within their yellow shroud
The wood was then in glory spread -
I love the browning bough to see
That litters autumns dying bed -
Her latest sigh is dear to me

Neath a spreading shady oak
For awhile to muse I lay
From its grains a bough I broke
To fan the teasing flies away
Then I sought the woodland side
Cool the breeze my face did meet
& the shade the sun did hide
Though twas hot it seemed sweet

Leonard Clark (ed)
John Clare (Longman's Poetry Library, 1969)

Glenn Eric Clare Rose (RIP)

My dear friend Glenn Rose, a member of the John Clare Society and a direct descendant of Clare, died at 5:30am on the 29th June, after 6 months in hospital in Newcastle - much of that time in the Intensive Care Unit. I spent 20 minutes speaking on the phone to Dorothy and Eric, Glenn's parents - now both in their mid-90s.  Dorothy is the grand-daughter of Clare's grand-daughter.
I had not heard from him since last December when he wrote to me after the death of my mother in November.
Glenn was a stalwart member of the Clare Society, and my highlight of the Festival in July each year was meeting him and Dorothy; we also served together for some years on the Management Committee of the Society.

The photos show him with his two grand-sons, and our commisserations must go to Ayla his daughter on her great loss.

Dorothy asked me to remember him in the final two lines of Clare's 'I am': 

"Untroubling & untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky"

10th June 1824

Saw the blue-grey or lead-colord Fly-catcher for the first time this season they are calld 'Egypt Birds' by the common people from their note which seems to resemble the sound of the word 'Egypt' they build in old walls like the redstart & Grey Wagtail.
(Clare's Journal)

If ever the painstaking work of transcription is justified, the hours of eye-strain and debate, the weeks and months of detailed labour, often misunderstood or undervalued, it is when the original manuscript of a great writer disappears – perhaps for ever. This is what has happened to MS A47 from the Peterborough archive. It contained the original text of Clare’s long poem ‘Birds Nesting’.
We owe Eric Robinson a great debt, as if he had not struggled to copy this manuscript 50 years ago, it would only have survived in fragments and in unsatisfactory copies by earlier hands.

What happened to the manuscript? We do not know, nor when exactly it disappeared. What we do know however, is that it was loaned to an unnamed scholar by a senior member of the Peterborough Museum Society, and left in a railway compartment between Peterborough and Cambridge.
An excerpt from ‘Birds Nesting’ - Chapbook No. 13 (Arbour Editions)

There is a stranger comes with may
To haunt the homesteads orchard tree
Sings ‘eejip eejip’ all the day
& many cheated folks there be
Whose fancys lead their ears astray
Think bible egypt is its home

& marvel at the mighty way
That birds without a guide will come
It sings its strange & foreign call
All day in motion & at rest
& in the orchards hollow wall
It makes a large & curious nest

Of straw that from the yard it gains
& cobwebs fine as very down
& lays six eggs of tawney stains
Besprent with dots of darker brown
Its back is of a slatey blue
Its paler bosom ashen grey

Its wings are of a darker hue
& now & ever all the day
The orchard trees are its retreats
& there their ever busy guest
A somthing every moment meets
To catch & carry to its next

Neath cot & hovel eaves it drops
& flies & insects often gets
& round the barn hole fluttering stops
Where spiders spread their flimsy nets
& boys from what they’ve seen & heard
Them oft as Spider catchers call

But yet the busy Egypt bird
Remains a guess & doubt with all
& theres a bird I often mind
A bird that rarely ever fails
With Wagtails ‘Marholm Pits’ to find
& like them too with shorter tails

In heaps of stone it finds a way
& builds its nest of twitch & roots
& lays five eggs of leaden grey
With spots as black as ink or soot

(lines 279-318 of ‘Birds Nesting)

Shipwreckd Ghost

O open the door on thy william distrest
He longs just to lay his cold head on thy breast
The billows are beating contrary
They feign woud have rolld oer his rest in his grave
But he beetld the rock & he dasht the salt wave
To take a farwell of his mary

I list somthing surely was calling to me
Ive opend the window but nought can I see
Go sleep thou impertinent fairy
I neer did thee harm to disturb my repose
To kill me wi news of his sea faring woes
Poor williams far off from his mary

O the night it is dark & the fogs gather deep
Thy eyes are yet dimd wi the visions of sleep
Blame thou no impertinent fairy
All hamperd wi sea weeds all clotted wi blood
From the wounds of the rock i' the rude dashing flood
He fears to be loathd by his mary

Ah thou art no william thy voice is too broad
Tis more like the croak of the night walking toad
My williams was quite the contrary
He spoke like an angel his eyes they were bright
Twas as vainly to hide em as stars in the night
As sweet woud they shine on his mary

Ah closd are his eyes on the billows affloat
The salt waters ‘gug-gug—gug-gug’ down his throat
Well well may his speech seem contrary
Hoarse in the cold sea the waves mix in his wound
If thoult see thy william this instant come down
Hes short time to stay with his mary

Ah there is my william O god how he bleeds
O faint not Ill free thy poor head from its weeds
& flew to the door like a fairy
But ere she coud open the clock tolled one
The night was all silent—her william was gone
& never more wakend his mary

George Deacon in 'John Clare and the Folk Tradition' (Page 142-3) has a tune set for this lyric.  He goes on to say, "This is surely a song written by Clare.  The lover returning as a ghost is a common theme in folk balladry, and song like 'The Daemon Lover', 'The Grey Cock' and 'Sweet William's Ghost' may have been in his mind when he wrote this.  As a composition in the popular idiom this is as unsuccessful as 'The Great Sea Fight'.  It is, however, a good example of the influence of this idiom on Clare's own writing."

Manuscript reference: Pet MS A7 33aB2 123aC1 5a
EP II 36

Tis Midsummer Eve

I've been gleaning again.  Working through my old notebooks from several years of searching the Clare manuscripts in the Peterborough Archive for little known or unpublished (as far as I know) work.  I noticed, only when typing them up, the links between these three short poems transcribed on three seperate visits in 2017.  Not the most eloquent of Clare's output, but they do have a real charm.

Heres the old fairey rings by this dark thickets side
Where the owl rests in fear & the foxes abide
Where fairys dance round them more still than a sigh
Yet the shepherd when late hears the noise passing bye –
& oer his snug fire in his cottage at night
Hell talk till the candle turns blue with affright
Of the pranks that they play & the sports they pursue
& the mischief when vexed that they venture to do
How they steal into barns & fall thrashing the corn
Till the cock on the dunghill gins sounding his horn
Then all in an instant flye silent away
With an ear in their hands & so many are they
That the old startled farmer with anguish & awe
When he comes in the morning finds nothing but straw
& why shouldnt we of our troubles take leave
& with nature make merry at midsummers eve
(lines 84-99)

Pet MS A49 p32
(Unpublished save MP II 207)

Do but look what a beautiful midsummer night
The fairys are dancing [no] doubt by moon light
In the dark beaten rings by the old forrest side
Where the owl roosts with fear and the fairies abide
Grass & flowers seem oerjoyed in the merry moonlight
& dress to impress in gay partys at night
For the pasture is free from the rude heavy cow
& they walk with no fear to be trampled on now
The bee with his load of red dust on his thigh
No longer to teaze them for kisses comes nigh
Tho the Moth a coy lover for chances doth creep
His kisses to steal now he thinks them asleep

Pet MS A39 p11

The Moth a coy lover now ventures to creep
Out at night to steal kisses from flowers when asleep
But the Butterflye bold as the Bee for a plot
Kisses the flowers all the day whether willing or not
Now no longer able his sports to pursue
He lay neath a leaf to get out of the dew
Heres the Cockchaffer to with his old sullen drone
Sings as if he thought no song sweet as his own
The Bee too with grains of red dust on each thigh
Who had drained thro the day all the honey flowers dry
& in vain he attempted straight forward to drive
He reeled and mistook the way home to his hive
Till lost on this spot in a considerable fright
He makes on this thistle a bed for the night
Heres the rope dancing spider a trusting his threads
From his web on the branches high over their heads
Ah well may you laugh at the sports he doth make
While he dances away in no fears for his neck
The rest were all coupled & happy & they
Song the old merry songs which they sang at his day

Pet MS A31 p9
‘Hidden Treasures’ - Arbour Editions – 2016 (2nd edition 2019)


 John Clare’s 1819 poem ‘Solitude’ was published by Taylor & Hessey as part of the 1821 “The Village Minstrel” collection, but alas, with many alterations, omissions and ‘corrections’, as well as added punctuation.  

The altered text in ‘The Village Minstrel’ had been so butchered by its editors that it had become a very different poem indeed.  Why did Taylor & Hessey have this done?  Probably to make it more ‘acceptable’, in their opinion, to the book buying public of 1821.  Unfortunately, completely destroying Clare’s purpose in the poem, clearly seen by comparing their version with Clare’s manuscript.  I know which poem I would rather read, and it certainly is not the VM published version. 
Whilst researching Clare’s manuscripts with Annie Lee in 2014, we came across the ‘Solitude’ manuscript, immediately realising what had been done to Clare’s verse.  Since that moment our, and now my, aim has been to publish Clare’s verse and prose as he wrote it.  Little did we realise at that time, that by doing so we were inadvertently joining a heated argument that has raged for 50 (at least) years.  Certainly, since the first publications by Professor Eric Robinson and Geoffrey Summerfield of unchanged Clare texts in the 1960s.

Just to illustrate what the reader will miss reading the VM version, John Taylor removed the following lines from the published text in ‘The Village Minstrel’ (Vol 1, p 200 ff).  I have simply assembled them in the order in which they appear, dotted through the manuscript (Pet MS B2 p256a, C2 p36).

    O how sweet I cannot tell
    With thee at that hour to dwell
    Stretchd the mossy bank beside
    Lye to view the random tide
    Where no clowns has chopt from thence
    Bush nor stake to mend his fence
    Cornerd stones & pebbles round
    Breaking dasht wi mellow sound
    Wether this or that to see
    I am blest if Im wi thee
    & full dear has been the hour
    Spent wi in thy noon day bower
    Prest wi thee thy mossy seat
    O its unexpressive sweet

Why were these lines deleted?  No-one has any idea, but the whole 'Solitude' poem in its restored form was published – with its many variant readings - in the wonderful OUP Clarendon Editions (EP II 338).  I don’t think the poem has been published in its original state apart from that, until Annie Lee and I came along that is, Annie producing the stunning Handmade Limited Edition volume you see above - all long sold out of course.

Of sunset and dandelions

Tis May and yet the March flower Dandelion 
Is still in bloom among the Emerald grass 
Shining like guineas with the suns warm eye on 
We almost think they are gold as we pass 
Or fallen stars on a green sea of grass 
The[y] shine in fields on waste grounds near the town 
They closed like painters brush when even was 
At length they turn to nothing else but down 
While the rude winds blow of[f] each shadowy crown 

('A Raphsody' - lines 80-88)