Poems by John Clare

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'T is Spring, my love, 'tis Spring,
Shades though you're leafless, save the bramble-spear
The hawthorn gently stopt the sun, beneath,
O who can witness with a careless eye
Scenes of love and days of pleasure,
Surely Lucy love returns,
O happy spot! how much the sight of thee
Again freckled cowslips are gilding the plain,
A Specimen of Clare's rough drafts
Here's a valentine nosegay for Mary,
Be where I may when Death brings in his bill,
Oh, the world is all too rude for thee, with much ado and care;
"What ails my love, where can he be?
Calm resignation meets a happy end;
The week before Easter, the days long and clear,
"Adieu, my love, adieu!
Beside a runnel build my shed,
Among the green bushes the songs of the thrushes
The Autumn day now fades away,
O take this world away from me;
Who loves the white-thorn tree,
Autumn comes laden with her ripened load
I love the fitful gust that shakes
I love the fitful gust that shakes
Syren of sullen moods and fading hues,
Syren of sullen moods and fading hues,
The thistle-down's flying, though the winds are all still,
The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
The Spring is gone, the Summer-beauty wanes,
The summer-flower has run to seed,
When midnight comes a host of dogs and men
A faithless shepherd courted me,
I love thee, sweet Mary, but love thee in fear;
When nature's beauty shone complete.
Winter's gone, the summer breezes
A weedling wild, on lonely lea,
When the dark ivy the thorn-tree is mounting,
On the eighteenth of October we lay in Bantry Bay,
Dream not of love, to think it like
The firetail tells the boys when nests are nigh
Why are ye silent, Birds?
O the evening's for the fair, bonny lassie O!
The morning opens fine, bonny Mary O!
With careful step to keep his balance up
What trifles touch our feelings, when we view
"Perhaps it is foolish to remark it, but there are times and places when I am a child at those things"
Christmass is come and every hearth
In the cowslip pips I lie,
Dear brother robin this comes from us all
Now eve's hours hot noon succeed;
The red east glows, the dewy cheek of Day
The winds and waters are in his command,
Why should man's high aspiring mind
O Poesy is on the wane,
Slow boiling up, on the horizon's brim,
The dewdrops on every blade of grass are so much like silver drops
What is there in those distant hills
The frog croaks loud, and maidens dare not pass
The Spring of life is o'er with me,
When first we hear the shy-come nightingales,
Full many a sharp, sad, unexpected thorn
The Spring is come, and Spring flowers coming too,
Winter is past--the little bee resumes
Man, Earth's poor shadow! talks of Earth's decay:
Ah, little did I think in time that's past,
I love to see the old heath's withered brake
In the meadow's silk grasses we see the black snail,
'T is evening: the black snail has got on his track,
’Tis evening; the black snail has got on his track,
When once the sun sinks in the west,
What time the cricket unmolested sings,
Expression, throbbing utterance of the soul,
[Clare's note:--"Scraps from my father and mother, completed."]
Farewell to the bushy clump close to the river
Love and thy vain employs, away
Maids shout to breakfast in a merry strife,
He waits all day beside his little flock
The beams in blossom with their spots of jet
I ne'er was struck before that hour
The fir trees taper into twigs and wear
The cataract, whirling down the precipice,
Sweet solitude, what joy to be alone--
Supper removed, the mother sits,
The snow falls deep; the forest lies alone;
Grasshoppers go in many a thumming spring
Infant' graves are steps of angels, where
Infants' gravemounds are steps of angels, where
What makes me love thee now, thou dreary scene,
Ye injur'd fields, ye once were gay,
Among the orchard weeds, from every search,
Ah, when this world and I have shaken hands,
He plays with other boys when work is done,
Nature, thou accept the song,
O for that sweet, untroubled rest
O home, however homely,--thoughts of thee
This world has suns, but they are overcast;
These little window dwellers, in cottages and halls, were always
I opened the casement this morn at starlight,
I hid my love when young till I
I love thee, sweet Mary, but love thee in fear;
I pluck Summer blossoms,
I'll lay me down on the green sward,
I would not wish the burning blaze
"Where art thou wandering, little child?"
"Where art thou wandering, little child?"
How sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs,
How Sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs,
These tiny loiterers on the barley's beard,
Say, wilt thou go with me, sweet maid,
"Will Jockey come to-day, mither?
How pleasing simplest recollections seem!
O Langley Bush! the shepherd's sacred shade,
Lassie, I love thee!
Left in the world alone,
Like boys that run behind the loaded wain
Life, thou art misery, or as such to me;
Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
Love, though it is not chill and cold,
I hate the very noise of troublous man
In crime and enmity they lie
Love lives beyond
I love thee, Nature, with a boundless love!
O far is fled the winter wind,
Go rose, my Chloe's bosom grace:
"Unriddle this riddle, my own Jenny love,
Maid of the wilderness,
[From HONE'S "Year Book"]
With arms and legs at work and gentle stroke
The skylark mounts up with the morn,
I look upon the hedgerow flower,
My love she wears a cotton plaid,
How beautiful the summer night
Sweet Summer, breathe your softest gales
My love is tall and handsome;
Come queen of months in company
Now comes the bonny May, dancing and skipping
Now happy swains review the plains,
How sweet it is, when suns get warmly high,
Upon a day, a merry day,
Love, meet me in the green glen,
O meet me to-night by the bright starlight,
I would not that my memory all should die,
Bonny and stout and brown, without a hat,
Young Jenny wakens at the dawn,
Here grandeur triumphs at its topmost pitch
O now the crimson east, its fire-streak burning,
There's a bonny place in Scotland,
Here sparrows build upon the trees,
My love, thou art a nosegay sweet,
The Spring is come forth, but no Spring is for me
'T was somewhere in the April time,
The faint sun tipt the rising ground,
O Native scenes, nought to my heart clings nearer
Sweet comes the morning
All nature owns with one accord
O simple Nature, how I do delight
Night spreads upon the plain her ebon pall,
Darkness like midnight from the sobbing woods
On Martinmas eve the dogs did bark,
On Martinmas eve the dogs did bark,
The mid-day hour of twelve the clock counts o'er,
Sybil of months, and worshipper of winds,
The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
Now is past--the happy now
O silly love! O cunning love!
O life, thy name to me's a galling sound,
Beyond expression, delicately fine,
Serene she looks, she wears an angel's form,
---------Taste is from heaven,
How sweet it us'd to be, when April first
I seek for Peace--I care not where 'tis found:
Peggy said good morning and I said good bye,
O it was a lorn and a dismal night,
And will she leave the lowly clowns
Agen I'll take my idle pen
Spring's sweets they are not fled, though Summer's blossom
A path, old tree, goes by thee crooking on,
Here morning in the ploughman's songs is met
Why should man's high aspiring mind
Poets love Nature, and themselves are love.
Rank Poverty! dost thou my joys assail,
I wandered out one rainy day
The rosy day was sweet and young,
Just as the even-bell rang, we set out
Summer's pleasures they are gone like to visions every one,
The eve put on her sweetest shroud,
The sun now sinks behind the woodland green,
Soon as the twilight through the distant mist
Soon as the twilight through the distant mist
On Sunday mornings, freed from hard employ,
Upon the sabbath, sweet it is to walk
She hastens out and scarcely pins her clothes
I hid my love when young till I
The cat runs races with her tail. The dog
What a night! The wind howls, hisses, and but stops
Now as even's warning bell
I peeled bits of straws and I got switches too
I wish I was where I would be,
I would not feign a single sigh
Mary, leave thy lowly cot
One gloomy eve I roamed about
Warm into praises, kindling muse,
What is song's eternity?
A beautiful flower, that bedeck'd a mean pasture,
Dropt here and there upon the flower
Fill the foaming cups again,
Mary, the day of love's pleasures has been,
Of all the days in memory's list,
On gloomy eve I roam'd about
Swamps of wild rush-beds, and sloughs' squashy traces,
The sultry day it wears away,
There was a time, when love's young flowers
There's the daisy, the woodbine,
Let brutish hearts, as hard as stones,
Ye brown old oaks that spread the silent wood,
Where the broad sheepwalk bare and brown
Maytime is to the meadows coming in,
Come, gentle Spring, and show thy varied greens
Bowing adorers of the gale,
Where slanting banks are always with the sun
The prim daisy's golden eye
What charms does Nature at the spring put on,
The passing traveller with wonder sees
Black grows the southern sky, betokening rain,
Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,
The frog half fearful jumps across the path,
The sinking sun is taking leave,
How pleasant, when the heat of day is bye,
Now swarthy summer, by rude health embrowned,
The cocks have now the morn foretold,
I Love to peep out on a summer's morn,
How sweet I've wander'd bosom-deep in grain,
The wind waves oer the meadows green
How sweet, when weary, dropping on a bank,
The morning road is thronged with merry boys
How fond the rustic's ear at leisure dwells
The Sabbath-day, of every day the best,
What wonder strikes the curious, while he views
What wonder strikes the curious, while he views
There is a wilder'd spot delights me well,
'T was on the banks of Ivory, 'neath the hawthorn-scented shade,
A beanfield full in blossom smells as sweet
I cannot know what country owns thee now,
Sorrow came with downcast eyes,
By the old tavern door on the causey there lay
True as the church clock hand the hour pursues
Soon as the spring its earliest visit pays,
Stopt by the storm, that long in sullen black
Stopt by the storm, that long in sullen black
The crow sat on the willow tree
"Ah, where can he linger?" said Doll, with a sigh,
Thou scarest me with dreams.
He could not die when trees were green,
The sultry day it wears away,
Sweet is the violet, th' scented pea,
The Autumn's come again,
Old elm, that murmured in our chimney top
A false knight wooed a maiden poor,
The nodding oxeye bends before the wind,
Wandering by the river's edge,
"Tweet" pipes the robin as the cat creeps by
I've left my own old home of homes,
Waves trough, rebound, and furious boil again,
O once I loved a pretty girl, and dearly love her still;
The shepherd on his journey heard when nigh
I went in the fields with the leisure I got,
Just like the berry brown is my bonny lassie O!
How oft on Sundays, when I'd time to tramp,
How oft on Sundays, when I'd time to tramp,
The gipsy's life is a merry life,
Is there another world for this frail dust
Come hither, my dear one, my choice one, and rare one,
Timid and smiling, beautiful and shy,
Old April wanes, and her last dewy morn
Though o'er the darksome northern hill
I seek her in the shady grove,
For Sunday's play he never makes excuse,
Now the wheat is in the ear, and the rose is on the brere,
Maid of Jerusalem, by the Dead Sea,
Gay was the Maid of Ocram
How sweet are Spring wild flowers! They grow past the counting.
Of all the swains that meet at eve
The maple with its tassel flowers of green,
The bonny March morning is beaming
The linnet sat upon its nest,
This is the month the nightingale, clod brown,
Up this green woodland-ride let’s softly rove,
The little cottage stood alone, the pride
Youth has no fear of ill, by no cloudy days annoyed,
'T is pleasant to bear recollections in mind
The Old Year's gone away
He loved the brook's soft sound,
The world is taking little heed
Now the sun his blinking beam
I'll weep and sigh when e'er she wills
The whitethorn is budding and rushes are green,
Tis three years and a quarter since I left my own fireside
How sweet is every lengthening day,
Huge elm, with rifted trunk all notched and scarred,
Above the russet clods the corn is seen
Although I'm in prison
O for that sweet, untroubled rest
Sweet type of innocence, snow-clothed blossom,
Home furthest off grows dearer from the way;
When trouble haunts me, need I sigh?
Pretty swallow, once again
Swift goes the sooty swallow o'er the heath,
And has the Spring's all glorious eye
Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush,
Once musing o'er an old effaced stone,
He eats (a moment's stoppage to his song)
[From "The Champion"]
[The reader has been made acquainted with the circumstances under which this poem was written. It was included by Mr. J. H. Dixon in his "Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England" (edited by Robert Bell), with the following prefatory note:--
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
Among the taller wood with ivy hung,
Young Chloe looks sweet as the rose,
Age yellows my leaf with a daily decline,
In life's first years as on a mother's breast,
Sweet chestnuts brown like soling leather turn;
Welcome, red and roundy sun,
Welcome, red and roundy sun,
Dedicated To The Rev. J. Knowles Holland.
When shall I see the white-thorn leaves agen,
When in summer thou walkest
Thou lovely bud, with many weeds surrounded,
Three times, sweet hawthorn! I have met thy bower,
Sweet brook! I've met thee many a summer's day,
Sweet Mary, though nor sighs nor pains
Old tree thou art wither'd--I pass'd thee last year,
Sweet bottle-shaped flower of lushy red,
Sweet, uncultivated blossom,
Malicious insect, little vengeful bee,
Thrice welcome here again, thou flutt'ring thing,
Cowslip bud, so early peeping,
Old-fashioned uncouth measurer of the day,
Sweet gem of infant fairy-flowers!
My Anna, summer laughs in mirth,
Come, pensive Autumn, with thy clouds, and storms,
Elia, thy reveries and visioned themes
Hail, soothing balm! Ye breezes blow,
Arise, my Isabel, arise!
The lark's in the sky, love,
I cannot touch the harp again,
Well, honest John, how fare you now at home?
Poet of mighty power, I fain
O spirit of the wind and sky,
Mary, I love to sing
Thy glance is the brightest,
Thou lowly cot, where first my breath I drew,
With filial duty I address thee, Mother,
O once I had a true love,
The heroes of the present and the past
O sweetly wild and 'witching Poesy!
Lovely insect, haste away,
O painted clouds ! sweet beauties of the sky,
'Tis sweet to recollect life's past controls,
Dark creeping Ivy, with thy berries brown,
Bird of the morn,
The World, its hopes and fears, have pass'd away;
Simple enchantress! wreath'd in summer blooms
Sweet tiny flower of darkly hue,
In Fancy's eye, what an extended span,
Wordsworth I love, his books are like the fields,
The turkeys wade the close to catch the bees
The setting Sun withdraws his yellow light,
And what is Life?--An hour-glass on the run,
And what is Life? An hour-glass on the run,
How many times Spring blossoms meek
I saw her crop a rose
These children of the sun which summer brings
Thou Winter, thou art keen, intensely keen;
The holly bush, a sober lump of green,
The small wind whispers through the leafless hedge
The yellow lambtoe I have often got,
O Woman, lovely Woman, magic flower,
Checq'd Autumn, doubly sweet is thy declining,
Autumn, I love thy parting look to view
The cockchafer hums down the rut-rifted lane
The spring is coming by a many signs;