Sunday, December 9, 2007

John Clare - not so nice to look at such

from My Mary

Who lives where beggars rarley speed?
And leads a humdrum life indeed
As none beside herself would lead?
My Mary.

Who lives where noises never cease
And what wi' hogs and ducks and geese
Can never have a minutes peace?
My Mary.


Who when the baby's all besh-t
To please its mamma kisses it?
And vows no Rose on earth's so sweet?
My Mary.

But when her mistress is'n't nigh
Who swears and wishes it would die
And pinches it to make it cry?
My Mary.


For tho in stature mighty small
And near as thick as thou art tall
That hand made thee that made us all,
My Mary.

And tho thy nose hooks down too much
And prophesies thy chin to touch
I'm not so nice to look at such,
My Mary.

No no about thy nose and chin
Its hooking out or bending in
I never heed nor care a pin,
My Mary.

And tho thy skin is brown and ruff
And form'd by nature hard and tuff
All suiteth me! So that's enough,
My Mary.

Major Works, pp. 59-62.

Lest I overstate the idea that Clare was just a nature poet, here's something else entirely. This poem is actually a parody of William Cowper's * sweet, gentle "To Mary" - same stanza form, very different Mary. Same true love.

Clare's spelling is often eccentric and his punctuation often missing entirely. I've been editing as I see fit, although I think I left this one alone.

* Cowper's neglect is outrageous. I don't think there's been a collection in print for years. A week of Cowper poems is in order.

1 comment:

  1. Awwww. Good thing Mistress doesn't have a nanny-cam, though.