The Gipsy's Song

A poem by John Clare

The gipsy's life is a merry life,
And ranting boys we be;
We pay to none or rent or tax,
And live untith'd and free.
None care for us, for none care we,
And where we list we roam,
And merry boys we gipsies be,
Though the wild woods are our home.

And come what will brings no dismay;
Our minds are ne'er perplext;
For if to-day is a swaly day,
We meet with luck the next.
And thus we sing and kiss our mates,
While our chorus still shall be,--
Bad luck to tyrant magistrates,
And the gipsies' camp still free.

To mend old pans and bottom chairs
Around the towns we tramp,
Then a day or two our purse repairs,
And plenty fills our camp;
And our song we sing, and our fiddles sound
Their catgut harmony,
While echo fills the woods around
With gipsy liberty.

The green grass is our softest bed,
The sun our clock we call,
The nightly sky hangs over head,
Our curtains, house, and all.
Tho' houseless while the wild winds blow,
Our joys are uncontroll'd;
We barefoot dance through Winter's snow,
When others die with cold.

Our maidens they are fond and free,
And lasting are their charms;
Brown as the berry on the tree,
No sun their beauty harms:
Their beauties are no garden blooms,
That fade before they flower;
Unshelter'd where the tempest comes,
They smile in sun and shower.

And they are wild as the woodland hare,
That feeds on the evening lea;
And what care we for ladies fair,
Since ours are fond and free?
False hearts hide in a lily skin,
But ours are coarse and fond;
No parson's fetters link us in,--
Our love's a stronger bond.

Tho' wild woods are our house and home,
'T is a home of liberty;
Free as the Summer clouds we roam,
And merry boys we be.
We dance and sing the year along,
And loud our fiddles play;
And no day goes without its song,
While every month is May.

The hare that haunts the fallow ground,
And round the common feeds;
The fox that tracks the woodland bounds,
And in the thicket breeds;
These are the neighbours where we dwell,
And all the guests we see,
That share and love the quiet well
Of gipsy liberty.

The elements are grown our friends,
And leave our huts alone;
The thunder-bolt, that shakes and rends
The cotter's house of stone,
Flies harmless by the blanket roof,
Where the winds may burst and blow,
For our camps, tho' thin, are tempest proof,
We reck not rain and snow.

May the lot we've met our lives befall,
And nothing worse attend;
So here's success to gipsies all,
And every gipsy's friend.
And while the ass that bears our camp
Can find a common free,
Around old England's heaths we'll tramp
In gipsy liberty.

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