A Specimen of Clare's rough drafts

A poem by John Clare

A Specimen of Clare's rough drafts

In a huge cloud of mountain hue
The sun sets dark nor shudders through
One single beam to shine again
Tis night already in the lane

The settled clouds in ridges lie
And some swell mountains calm and high

Clouds rack and drive before the wind
In shapes and forms of every kind
Like waves that rise without the roars
And rocks that guard untrodden shores
Now castles pass majestic bye
And ships in peaceful havens lie
These gone ten thousand shapes ensue
For ever beautiful and new

The scattered clouds lie calm and still
And day throws gold on every hill
Their thousand heads in glorys run
As each were worlds and owned a sun
The rime it clings to every thing
It beards the early buds of spring
The mossy pales the orchard spray
Are feathered with its silver grey

Rain drizzles in the face so small
We scarce can say it rains at all

The cows turned to the pelting rain
No longer at their feed remain
But in the sheltering hovel hides
That from two propping dotterels strides

The sky was hilled with red and blue
With lighter shadows waking through
Till beautiful and beaming day
Shed streaks of gold for miles away

The linnet stopt her song to clean
Her spreading wings of yellow green
And turn his head as liking well
To smooth the dropples as they fell

One scarce could keep one's path aright
From gazing upward at the sight

The boys for wet are forced to pass
The cuckoo flowers among the grass
To hasten on as well they may
For hedge or tree or stack of hay
Where they for shelter can abide
Safe seated by its sloping side
That by the blackthorn thicket cowers
A shelter in the strongest showers

The gardens golden gilliflowers
Are paled with drops of amber showers

Dead leaves from hedges flirt about
The chaff from barn doors winnows out
And down without a wing to flye
As fast as bees goes sailing bye
The feather finds a wing to flye
And dust in wirl puffs winnows bye

When the rain at midday stops
Spangles glitter in the drops
And as each thread a sunbeam was
Cobwebs glitter in the grass

The sheep all loaded with the rain
Try to shake it off in vain
And ere dryed by wind and sun
The load will scarcely let them run

The shepherds foot is sodden through
And leaves will clout his brushing shoe
The buttercups in gold alloyed
And daiseys by the shower destroyed

The sun is overcast clouds lie
And thicken over all the sky

Crows morn and eve will flock in crowds
To fens and darken like the clouds
So many is their cumberous flight
The dull eve darkens into night

Clouds curl and curdle blue and grey
And dapple the young summers day

Through the torn woods the violent rain
Roars and rattles oer the plain
And bubbles up in every pool
Till dykes and ponds are brimming full

The thickening clouds move slowly on
Till all the many clouds are one
That spreads oer all the face of day
And turns the sunny shine to grey

Now the meadow water smokes
And hedgerows dripping oaks
Fitter patter all around
And dimple the once dusty ground
The spinners threads about the weeds
Are hung with little drops in beads
Clover silver green becomes
And purple blue surrounds the plumbs
And every place breaths fresh and fair
When morning pays her visit there

The day is dull the heron trails
On flapping wings like heavy sails
And oer the mead so lowly swings
She fans the herbage with her wings

The waterfowl with suthering wings
Dive down the river splash and spring
Up to the very clouds again
That sprinkle scuds of coming rain
That flye and drizzle all the day
Till dripping grass is turned to grey

The various clouds that move or lye
Like mighty travellers in the sky
All mountainously ridged or curled
That may have travelled round the world

The water ruckles into waves
And loud the neighbouring woodland raves
All telling of the coming storm
That fills the village with alarm

Ere yet the sun is two hours high
Winds find all quarters of the sky
With sudden shiftings all around
And now the grass upon the ground
And now the leaves they wirl and wirl
With many a flirting flap and curl

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