Helpstone Green.

A poem by John Clare

Ye injur'd fields, ye once were gay,
When nature's hand display'd
Long waving rows of willows grey,
And clumps of hawthorn shade;
But now, alas! your hawthorn bowers
All desolate we see,
The spoilers' axe their shade devours,
And cuts down every tree.

Not trees alone have own'd their force,
Whole woods beneath them bow'd;
They turn'd the winding rivulet's course,
And all thy pastures plough'd;
To shrub or tree throughout thy fields
They no compassion show;
The uplifted axe no mercy yields,
But strikes a fatal blow.

Whene'er I muse along the plain,
And mark where once they grew,
Remembrance wakes her busy train
And brings past scenes to view:
The well-known brook, the favourite tree,
In fancy's eye appear,
And next, that pleasant green I see,
That green for ever dear.

O'er its green hills I've often stray'd
In childhood's happy hour,
Oft sought the nest along the shade
And gather'd many a flower;
And there, with playmates often join'd
In fresher sports to plan;
But now increasing years have coin'd
Those children into man.

The green s gone too--ah, lovely scene!
No more the kingcup gay
Shall shine in yellow o'er the green,
And shed its golden ray;
No more the herdsman's early call
Shall bring the cows to feed,
No more the milkmaid's evening bawl
In "Come mull" tones succeed.

Both milkmaid's shouts and herdsman's call
Have vanish'd with the green,
The kingcups yellow, shades and all,
Shall never more be seen;
But the thick-cultur'd tribes that grow
1 Will so efface the scene,
That after-times will hardly know
It ever was a green.

Farewel, thou favourite spot, farewel!
Since every effort's vain,
All 1 can do is still to tell
Of thy delightful plain;
But that joy's short;--increasing years,
That did my youth presage,
Will now, as each new day appears,
Bring on declining age.

Reflection pierces deadly keen,
While I the moral scan,--
As are the change of the green
So is the life of man:
Youth brings age with faltering tongue,
That does the exit crave;
There's one short scene presents the throng,
Another shows the grave.

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