To My Wife--A Valentine

A poem by John Clare

O once I had a true love,
As blest as I could be:
Patty was my turtle dove,
And Patty she loved me.
We walked the fields together,
By roses and woodbine,
In Summer's sunshine weather,
And Patty she was mine.

We stopped to gather primroses,
And violets white and blue,
In pastures and green closes
All glistening with the dew.
We sat upon green mole-hills,
Among the daisy flowers,
To hear the small birds' merry trills,
And share the sunny hours.

The blackbird on her grassy nest
We would not scare away,
Who nuzzling sat with brooding breast
On her eggs for half the day.
The chaffinch chirruped on the thorn,
And a pretty nest had she;
The magpie chattered all the morn
From her perch upon the tree.

And I would go to Patty's cot,
And Patty came to me;
Each knew the other's very thought
Under the hawthorn tree.
And Patty had a kiss to give,
And Patty had a smile,
To bid me hope and bid me love,
At every stopping stile.

We loved one Summer quite away,
And when another came,
The cowslip close and sunny day,
It found us much the same.
We both looked on the selfsame thing,
Till both became as one;
The birds did in the hedges sing,
And happy time went on.

The brambles from the hedge advance,
In love with Patty's eyes:
On flowers, like ladies at a dance,
Flew scores of butterflies.
I claimed a kiss at every stile,
And had her kind replies.
The bees did round the woodbine toil,
Where sweet the small wind sighs.

Then Patty was a slight young thing;
Now she's long past her teens;
And we've been married many springs,
And mixed in many scenes.
And I'll be true for Patty's sake,
And she'll be true for mine;
And I this little ballad make,
To be her valentine.

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