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sisters & sparrows

Poetry. Photography. Life.

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

I am writing an essay on Romantic landscape poetry at the moment.  Bring on John Clare.  He is welcome back into my life, that poor sweet crazed farmhand.

The Yellowhammer’s Nest

 

By John Clare

 

Just by the wooden brig a bird flew up,

Frit by the cowboy as he scrambled down

To reach the misty dewberry—let us stoop

And seek its nest—the brook we need not dread,

‘Tis scarcely deep enough a bee to drown,

So it sings harmless o’er its pebbly bed

—Ay here it is, stuck close beside the bank

Beneath the bunch of grass that spindles rank

Its husk seeds tall and high—’tis rudely planned

Of bleachèd stubbles and the withered fare

That last year’s harvest left upon the land,

Lined thinly with the horse’s sable hair.

Five eggs, pen-scribbled o’er with ink their shells

Resembling writing scrawls which fancy reads

As nature’s poesy and pastoral spells—

They are the yellowhammer’s and she dwells

Most poet-like where brooks and flowery weeds

As sweet as Castaly to fancy seems

And that old molehill like as Parnass’ hill

On which her partner haply sits and dreams

O’er all her joys of song—so leave it still

A happy home of sunshine, flowers and streams.

Yet in the sweetest places cometh ill,

A noisome weed that burthens every soil;

For snakes are known with chill and deadly coil

To watch such nests and seize the helpless young,

And like as though the plague became a guest,

Leaving a houseless home, a ruined nest—

And mournful hath the little warblers sung

When such like woes hath rent its little breast.

 

 

Like Robert Frost, Clare capitalised on the image of himself as a peasant poet.  Unlike Robert Frost, Clare did not live a sort of double life, half the time working on the land, the other half lecturing in fancy-pants universities – even when Clare was really popular he still farmed.  Right up until he was chucked into the mental asylum and started believing he was Byron, that is.

 

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