John Clare


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All information has been reproduced here for educational and informational purposes to benefit site visitors, and is provided at no charge The Shepherds Calendar - July 2nd Version. The Maid Of Jerusalem. House Or Window Flies. Patty Of The Vale. The Shepherds Calendar - November.

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The Fear Of Flowers. Her joys are evergreen, her world is wide - Hark!

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How subtle is the bird! Sing on, sweet bird! We will not plunder music of its dower, Nor turn this spot of happiness to thrall ; For melody seems hid in every flower, That blossoms near thy home.

First Love by John Clare with text

These harebells all Seem bowing with the beautiful in song ; And gaping cuckoo-flower, with spotted leaves, Seems blushing of the singing it has heard. How curious is the nest ; no other bird Uses such loose materials, or weaves Its dwelling in such spots: Snug lie her curious eggs in number five, Of deadened green, or rather olive brown ; And the old prickly thorn-bush guards them well.

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I saw her crop a rose Right early in the day, And I went to kiss the place Where she broke the rose away And I saw the patten rings Where she o'er the stile had gone, And I love all other things Her bright eyes look upon. If she looks upon the hedge or up the leafing tree, The whitethorn or the brown oak are made dearer things to me.

I have a pleasant hill Which I sit upon for hours, Where she cropt some sprigs of thyme And other little flowers; And she muttered as she did it As does beauty in a dream, And I loved her when she hid it On her breast, so like to cream, Near the brown mole on her neck that to me a diamond shone; Then my eye was like to fire, and my heart was like to stone.

There is a small green place Where cowslips early curled, Which on Sabbath day I traced, The dearest in the world. A little oak spreads o'er it, And throws a shadow round, A green sward close before it, The greenest ever found: There is not a woodland nigh nor is there a green grove, Yet stood the fair maid nigh me and told me all her love.

The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon; And, if the sun looks through, 'tis with a face Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon, When done the journey of her nightly race, Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place. For days the shepherds in the fields may be, Nor mark a patch of sky - blindfold they trace, The plains, that seem without a bush or tree, Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.

John Clare

The timid hare seems half its fears to lose, Crouching and sleeping 'neath its grassy lair, And scarcely startles, tho' the shepherd goes Close by its home, and dogs are barking there; The wild colt only turns around to stare At passer by, then knaps his hide again; And moody crows beside the road forbear To fly, tho' pelted by the passing swain; Thus day seems turn'd to night, and tries to wake in vain.

The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon, And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light; The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon, And small birds chirp and startle with affright; Much doth it scare the superstitious wight, Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay; While cow-boys think the day a dream of night, And oft grow fearful on their lonely way, Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.

Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings Its murky prison round - then winds wake loud; With sudden stir the startled forest sings Winter's returning song - cloud races cloud, And the horizon throws away its shroud, Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye; Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd, And o'er the sameness of the purple sky Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye. At length it comes along the forest oaks, With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high; The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks, And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly, While the blue hawk hangs o'er them in the sky.

The ploughman hears its humming rage begin, And hies for shelter from his naked toil; Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin, He bends and scampers o'er the elting soil, While clouds above him in wild fury boil, And winds drive heavily the beating rain; He turns his back to catch his breath awhile, Then ekes his speed and faces it again, To seek the shepherd's hut beside the rushy plain.

The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat The melancholy crow - in hurry weaves, Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat, Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves, Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves. There he doth dithering sit, and entertain His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves; Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta'en, And wishing in his heart 'twas summer-time again.

Thus wears the month along, in checker'd moods, Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms; One hour dies silent o'er the sleepy woods, The next wakes loud with unexpected storms; A dreary nakedness the field deforms - Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight, Lives in the village still about the farms, Where toil's rude uproar hums from morn till night Noises, in which the ears of Industry delight. At length the stir of rural labour's still, And Industry her care awhile forgoes; When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil His yearly task, at bleak November's close, And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows; When frost locks up the stream in chill delay, And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes, For little birds - then Toil hath time for play, And nought but threshers' flails awake the dreary day.

How sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs, Upon an ashen stoven pillowing me; Faintly are heard the ploughmen at their ploughs, But not an eye can find its way to see.

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The sunbeams scarce molest me with a smile, So thick the leafy armies gather round; And where they do, the breeze blows cool the while, Their leafy shadows dancing on the ground. Full many a flower, too, wishing to be seen, Perks up its head the hiding grass between. Love lives beyond the tomb, And earth, which fades like dew!

I love the fond, The faithful, and the true.