Wednesday, December 12, 2007

John Clare - what sweet descriptions bards disdain to sing

Another mode of John Clare - "Rural Morning", "Sunday Walks", "Hay Making", "Angling". Affectionate, detailed poetic descriptions of ordinary activities in rural England. Here's an example:

from Rustic Fishing

On sunday mornings freed from hard employ
How oft I mark the young mischevous boy
With anxious haste his poles and lines provide
For make shifts oft crookd pins to threadings ty'd
And delve his knife with wishes ever warm
In rotten dunghills for the grub and worm
The harmless treachery of his hooks to bait

[a decription of the brook, inlcuding a morehen's nest]

There bent in hopfull musings on the brink
They watch their floating corks that seldom sink
Save when a warey roach or silver bream
Nibbles the worm as passing up the stream
Just urging expectations hopes astray
To view the dodging cork then slip away

[the weather changes, girls walk by, the boys play round in the stream, night falls]

Who then like school boys that at truant play
In sloomy fear lounge on their homward way
And inly trembling as they gain the town
To meet chastisement from a parents frown
Where hazel twigs in readiness prepard
For their long abscence brings a mete reward

These poems of rural life can be sentimental, or trivial. Maybe this one is. I like the specificity of the fishhooks improvised from pins, the "sloomy fear", the "treachery" of the hooks. The joy of the wasted day.

The header quotation is from "The Harvest Morning", Major Works, p. 13

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