Ballad. When The Dark Ivy The Thorn-Tree Is Mounting

A poem by John Clare

When the dark ivy the thorn-tree is mounting,
Sweet shielding in summer the nest of the dove,
There lies the sweet spot, by the side of the fountain,
That's dear to all sweetness that dwells upon love:
For there setting sunbeams, ere even's clouds close 'em,
Once stretch'd a long shadow of one I adore;
And there did I meet the sweet sighs of the bosom
Of one ever dear, though I meet her no more.

And who with a soul, and a share of warm feeling,
And who with a heart that owns love for the fair,
Can pass by the spot where his first look was stealing,
Or first fondness ventur'd love-tales to declare?
Ah, who can pass by it, and notice it never?
Can long days forget on first fondness to call?
Sure time kindles love to burn brighter than ever,
And nature's first choice must be sweetest of all.

I prove it, sweet Mary, I prove it too truly;
That fountain, once sweeten'd with presence of thee,
As oft as I pass it at eve, and as duly
As May brings the time round, I think upon thee:
I go and I sit on the soft bed of rushes,
As nigh as remembrance the spot can decide;
There lonely I whisper, in sorrow's warm gushes,
That bliss when my Mary was plac'd by my side.

It grieves me to see the first open May-blossom;
For, Mary, if still 'tis remember'd by thee,
'Twas just then thou wish'd one to place in thy bosom,
When scarce a peep show'd itself open to me.
Each May with a tear are that flower and I parted,
As near that lov'd spot it first peeps on the bower;
"I've no cause to pluck thee," I sigh broken-hearted,
"There's no Mary nigh to be pleas'd with the flower."

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