Pxxxx in 1818

[Image by Clementina Lady Hawarden (1860s) V&A]

Her hair was swarthy brown and soft of hue
As the sweet gloom that falls with evens dew
That on her fine white forehead did divide
In the triumphant negligence of pride
Her eyes were dark but they wore lights to shine
That love adores & poets call divine
Her cheeks summer blooms more hues than shade
Of loves soft innosence without its guide
& on the poutings of her amorous lip
Where youth loves fancied nectar loves to sip
Beauty had formulated that bewitching spell
That love adores & language cannot tell
Where charms triumphant made each gaze a prey
Heartaches for looking ere he turned away

Arbour Editions (2014)

“I met Patty by accident fell in love by accident married her by accident and esteemed her by choice       sure enough if I had not met her I should have at this day been a lonely solitary – feeling nothing but the worlds sorrows and troubles and sharing none of its happiness – as it is in the midst of trouble I am happy having a companion whom I feel deserves my best esteem”

'My Autobiographical Writings' (Robinson)

Song : "Say what is love?"


My first post leading up to St. Valentine's Day is the first of Clare's poems that grasped me as a young(er) man in the early 1970s.  I learned it then -- probably as I was then newly engaged -- and find it is still on my mind and lips from time to time.  And to illustrate it?  A lover's view of Swaddywell in the Summer.
.
Say what is love? To live in vain
To live and die and live again?

Say what is love? Is it to be
In prison still and still be free --

Or seem as free? Alone and prove
The hopeless hopes of real love?

Does real love on earth exist?
Tis like a sun beam on the mist,

That fades and nowhere will remain,
And nowhere is o’ertook again.

Say what is love? -– A blooming name,
A rose-leaf on the page of fame,

That blooms, then fades, to cheat no more,
And is what nothing was before?

Say what is love? Whate’er it be,
It centres, Mary, still with thee.

LP I 78
(part of 'Child Harold')

Schoolboys in Winter

The schoolboys still their morning ramble take 
To neighboring village school with playing speed
Loitering with passtimes leisure till they quake
Oft looking up the wild geese droves to heed
Watching the letters which their journeys make
Or plucking haws on which their fieldfares feed
& hips and sloes -- and on each shallow lake 
Making glib slides were they like shadows go 
Till some fresh passtimes in their minds awake
Then off they start anew & hasty blow 
Their numbd and clumpsing fingures till they glow
Then races with their shadows wildly run 
That stride huge giants oer the shining snow 
In the pale splendour of the winter sun. 


Early Poems II 586

Come let us sit down on this baulk of mown hay...

[Image: 'Harvest Scene" - John Linnell (1792-1882)]

This poem has haunted me since I transcribed it from the Archives around 18 months ago.  Anne Lee and I published it in "In the Fields" (Arbour Editions 2015) but that edition is long sold out.  So I am glad to let readers of this weblog into my secret passion.

Come let us sit down on this baulk of mown hay
I love in such places to sweeter delay
Were wheat on one side us nods down with its ear
& beans on the other in blossom appear

Perfuming the lare of the partridge that lies
In the wood shadows basking their forest supplys
& hare - heres a beaten bath tracks his retreat
Feels timidly safer in his harbour of wheat

On this mown baulk no doubt he oft ventures to play
When a grasshoppers rustle might fright him away
How sweet and how lovely such places appear
I cannot help wishing our cottage was here

With the wild bees for neighbours the whole summer long
& the lark ever near us a piping his song
With beans in full blossom close up to our door
& cows in the distance lowing loud on the moor

With grasshoppers leaping were cattle might roam
& partridges calling at night by our home
Were we might sit at night by our window & see
The timid hare feed & at play on the lea

I lie in our chamber & list if we please
The nightingale song in yon thick spinney trees
While evening kept deeping its shadows of brown
& the shepherd boy sing from his toils to the town

How sweet we might find it & doubtless as sweet
To that boy would it be thats now tracking the wheat
For the corn poppy red as a fox hunters coat
& cockle flowers pale of a less showy sort

& blue caps as rich in their sweet summer dye
As the blue eyes of love or the deep bearing sky
No doubt if he knew what our wishes was at
While hes wreathg that garland to stick in his hat

Hed happily join us with excited delight
To have his hut here all these pleasures among
With all his hearts pastimes forever in sight
& be the field tenant the whole summer long

Pet MS A31 p158R

Song: O Edinborough Katy’s a beautiful girl

O Edinborough Katy’s a beautifull girl
Her eyes bright as sunshine her teeth white as pearl
Her waist little mair then the span of baith han's
Yet her bosom & shoulders are broader then man's
This Edinborough Katys a beautiful girl
Her eyes bright as sunshine her teeth white as pearl
As soft as a cushion a armfull to span
With a bosom & shoulders as broad as a man

O Edinborough Katy she bluims like a lily
The pride o' a' Scotland the pride o' her Willy
Is Edinbro' Katy as weel as the town
& she waulks on the mountain while the sun gangs down
O Endinbro Katy's a beautiful girl
Her eye is rich auburn her teeth white as pearl
O Edinburough Katy's as red as a rose
As down the fair streets of the city she goes

O Edinburgh Katy[s] suns twa three & twenty
The stranger he luiks on her beauty sae dainty
& scarcely believes her as yet in her teens
& she scarcely can think what the strangers luik means
For Katy cant bear to be speerd at bye ony
Her shoulders sae broad & her bosom sae bonny
This Edinburough Katy's the lily sae dear
& the flower o' the city at the Spring o' the year


LP I 232

A little 'Scottish' Clare for Burns Birthday today
(The spelling and punctuation? typical Clare)

The Flood

[Image: Kathryn Parsons]

On Lolham Brigs in wild & lonely mood
Ive seen the winter floods their gambols play
Through each old arch that trembled while I stood
Bent oer its wall to watch the dashing spray
As their old stations would be washed away
Crash came the ice against the jambs & then
A shudder jarred the arches—yet once more
It breasted raving waves & stood agen
To wait the shock as stubborn as before
—White foam brown crested with the russet soil
As washed from new ploughed lands—would dart beneath
Then round & round a thousand eddies boil
On tother side—then pause as if for breath
One minute—& ingulphed—like life in death

Whose wrecky stains dart on the floods away
More swift then shadows in a stormy day
Things trail & turn & steady—all in vain
The engulphing arches shoot them quickly through
The feather dances flutters & again
Darts through the deepest dangers still afloat
Seeming as faireys whisked it from the view
& danced it oer the waves as pleasures boat
Light hearted as a merry thought in may—
Trays—uptorn bushes—fence demolished rails
Loaded with weeds in sluggish motion stray
Like water monsters lost each winds & trails
Till near the arches—then as in affright
It plunges—reels—& shudders out of sight

Waves trough—rebound—& fury boil again
Like plunging monsters rising underneath
Who at the top curl up a shaggy main
A moment catching at a surer breath
Then plunging headlong down & down—& on
Each following boil the shadow of the last
& other monsters rise when those are gone
Crest their fringed waves—plunge onward & are past
—The chill air comes around me ocean blea
From bank to bank the water strife is spread
Strange birds like snow spots oer the huzzing sea
Hang where the wild duck hurried past & fled
—On roars the flood—all restless to be free
Like trouble wandering to eternity

MP IV 234

"The floods come oer the meadow leas"


Clare in a dark, dark mood as the weather, although autumnal, seems to him hardly to mirror the realisation and bleakness of his inner loss -- from Autumn 1841.

The floods come oer the meadow leas
The dykes are full & brimming
Field furrows reach the horses knees
Where wild ducks oft are swimming
The skies are black the fields are bare
The trees their coats are loosing
The leaves are dancing in the air
The sun its warmth refusing

Brown are the flags & fading sedge
& tanned the meadow plains
Bright yellow is the osier hedge
Beside the brimming drains
The crows sit on the willow tree
The lake is full below
But still the dullest thing I see
Is self that wanders slow

The dullest scenes are not so dull
As thoughts I cannot tell
The brimming dykes are not so full
As my heart’s silent swell
I leave my troubles to the winds
With none to share a part
The only joy my feeling finds
Hides in an aching heart

Child Harold (1150 - 1173)
The Living Year 1841

Tim Chilcott (1999)