Mary

A poem by John Clare

The skylark mounts up with the morn,
The valleys are green with the Spring,
The linnets sit in the whitethorn,
To build mossy dwellings and sing;
I see the thornbush getting green,
I see the woods dance in the Spring,
But Mary can never be seen,
Though the all-cheering Spring doth begin.

I see the grey bark of the oak
Look bright through the underwood now;
To the plough plodding horses they yoke,
But Mary is not with her cow.
The birds almost whistle her name:
Say, where can my Mary be gone?
The Spring brightly shines, and 'tis shame
That she should be absent alone.

The cowslips are out on the grass,
Increasing like crowds at a fair;
The river runs smoothly as glass,
And the barges float heavily there;
The milkmaid she sings to her cow,
But Mary is not to be seen;
Can Nature such absence allow
At milking on pasture and green?

When Sabbath-day comes to the green,
The maidens are there in their best,
But Mary is not to be seen,
Though I walk till the sun's in the west.
I fancy still each wood and plain,
Where I and my Mary have strayed,
When I was a young country swain,
And she was the happiest maid.

But woods they are all lonely now,
And the wild flowers blow all unseen;
The birds sing alone on the bough,
Where Mary and I once have been.
But for months she now keeps away.
And I am a sad lonely hind;
Trees tell me so day after day,
As slowly they wave in the wind.

Birds tell me, while swaying the bough,
That I am all threadbare and old;
The very sun looks on me now
As one dead, forgotten, and cold.
Once I'd a place where I could rest.
And love, for then I was free;
That place was my Mary's dear breast
And hope was still left unto me.

The Spring comes brighter day by day,
And brighter flowers appear,
And though she long has kept away
Her name is ever dear.
Then leave me still the meadow flowers,
Where daffies blaze and shine;
Give but the Spring's young hawthorn bower,
For then sweet Mary's mine.

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