O Silly Love! O Cunning Love!

A poem by John Clare

O silly love! O cunning love!
An old maid to trepan:
I cannot go about my work
For loving of a man.
I cannot bake, I cannot brew,
And, do the best I can,
I burn the bread and chill the mash,
Through loving of a man.

Shrove Tuesday last I tried, and tried,
To turn the cakes in pan,
And dropt the batter on the floor,
Through thinking of a man.
My mistress screamed, my master swore,
Boys cursed me in a troop;
The cat was all the friends I had,
Who helped to clean it up.

Last Christmas eve, from off the spit
I took the goose to table,
Or should have done, but teasing Love
Did make me quite unable;
And down slipt dish, and goose, and all
With din and clitter-clatter;
All but the dog fell foul on me;
He licked the broken platter.

Although I'm ten years past a score,
Too old to play the fool,
My mistress says I must give o'er
My service for a school.
Good faith! What must I do, and do,
To keep my service still;
I'll give the winds my thoughts to love,
Indeed and so I will.

And if the wind my love should lose,
Right foolish were the play,
For I should mourn what I had lost,
And love another day.
With crosses and with losses
Right double were the ill,
So I'll e'en bear with love and all,
Alack, and so I will.

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