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Best Famous John Clare Poems

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Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem

The Winters Spring

 The winter comes; I walk alone,
 I want no bird to sing;
To those who keep their hearts their own
 The winter is the spring.
No flowers to please—no bees to hum— The coming spring's already come.
I never want the Christmas rose To come before its time; The seasons, each as God bestows, Are simple and sublime.
I love to see the snowstorm hing; 'Tis but the winter garb of spring.
I never want the grass to bloom: The snowstorm's best in white.
I love to see the tempest come And love its piercing light.
The dazzled eyes that love to cling O'er snow-white meadows sees the spring.
I love the snow, the crumpling snow That hangs on everything, It covers everything below Like white dove's brooding wing, A landscape to the aching sight, A vast expanse of dazzling light.
It is the foliage of the woods That winters bring—the dress, White Easter of the year in bud, That makes the winter Spring.
The frost and snow his posies bring, Nature's white spurts of the spring.

Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem

The Nightingales Nest

 Up this green woodland-ride let's softly rove,
And list the nightingale— she dwells just here.
Hush ! let the wood-gate softly clap, for fear The noise might drive her from her home of love ; For here I've heard her many a merry year— At morn, at eve, nay, all the live-long day, As though she lived on song.
This very spot, Just where that old-man's-beard all wildly trails Rude arbours o'er the road, and stops the way— And where that child its blue-bell flowers hath got, Laughing and creeping through the mossy rails— There have I hunted like a very boy, Creeping on hands and knees through matted thorn To find her nest, and see her feed her young.
And vainly did I many hours employ : All seemed as hidden as a thought unborn.
And where those crimping fern-leaves ramp among The hazel's under boughs, I've nestled down, And watched her while she sung ; and her renown Hath made me marvel that so famed a bird Should have no better dress than russet brown.
Her wings would tremble in her ecstasy, And feathers stand on end, as 'twere with joy, And mouth wide open to release her heart Of its out-sobbing songs.
The happiest part Of summer's fame she shared, for so to me Did happy fancies shapen her employ ; But if I touched a bush, or scarcely stirred, All in a moment stopt.
I watched in vain : The timid bird had left the hazel bush, And at a distance hid to sing again.
Lost in a wilderness of listening leaves, Rich Ecstasy would pour its luscious strain, Till envy spurred the emulating thrush To start less wild and scarce inferior songs ; For while of half the year Care him bereaves, To damp the ardour of his speckled breast ; The nightingale to summer's life belongs, And naked trees, and winter's nipping wrongs, Are strangers to her music and her rest.
Her joys are evergreen, her world is wide— Hark! there she is as usual— let's be hush— For in this black-thorn clump, if rightly guest, Her curious house is hidden.
Part aside These hazel branches in a gentle way, And stoop right cautious 'neath the rustling boughs, For we will have another search to day, And hunt this fern-strewn thorn-clump round and round ; And where this reeded wood-grass idly bows, We'll wade right through, it is a likely nook : In such like spots, and often on the ground, They'll build, where rude boys never think to look— Aye, as I live ! her secret nest is here, Upon this white-thorn stump ! I've searched about For hours in vain.
There! put that bramble by— Nay, trample on its branches and get near.
How subtle is the bird ! she started out, And raised a plaintive note of danger nigh, Ere we were past the brambles ; and now, near Her nest, she sudden stops— as choking fear, That might betray her home.
So even now We'll leave it as we found it : safety's guard Of pathless solitudes shall keep it still.
See there! she's sitting on the old oak bough, Mute in her fears ; our presence doth retard Her joys, and doubt turns every rapture chill.
Sing on, sweet bird! may no worse hap befall Thy visions, than the fear that now deceives.
We will not plunder music of its dower, Nor turn this spot of happiness to thrall ; For melody seems hid in every flower, That blossoms near thy home.
These harebells all Seem bowing with the beautiful in song ; And gaping cuckoo-flower, with spotted leaves, Seems blushing of the singing it has heard.
How curious is the nest ; no other bird Uses such loose materials, or weaves Its dwelling in such spots : dead oaken leaves Are placed without, and velvet moss within, And little scraps of grass, and, scant and spare, What scarcely seem materials, down and hair ; For from men's haunts she nothing seems to win.
Yet Nature is the builder, and contrives Homes for her children's comfort, even here ; Where Solitude's disciples spend their lives Unseen, save when a wanderer passes near That loves such pleasant places.
Deep adown, The nest is made a hermit's mossy cell.
Snug lie her curious eggs in number five, Of deadened green, or rather olive brown ; And the old prickly thorn-bush guards them well.
So here we'll leave them, still unknown to wrong, As the old woodland's legacy of song.
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem

Songs Eternity

 What is song's eternity?
Come and see.
Can it noise and bustle be? Come and see.
Praises sung or praises said Can it be? Wait awhile and these are dead— Sigh, sigh; Be they high or lowly bred They die.
What is song's eternity? Come and see.
Melodies of earth and sky, Here they be.
Song once sung to Adam's ears Can it be? Ballads of six thousand years Thrive, thrive; Songs awaken with the spheres Alive.
Mighty songs that miss decay, What are they? Crowds and cities pass away Like a day.
Books are out and books are read; What are they? Years will lay them with the dead— Sigh, sigh; Trifles unto nothing wed, They die.
Dreamers, mark the honey bee; Mark the tree Where the blue cap "tootle tee" Sings a glee Sung to Adam and to Eve— Here they be.
When floods covered every bough, Noah's ark Heard that ballad singing now; Hark, hark, "Tootle tootle tootle tee"— Can it be Pride and fame must shadows be? Come and see— Every season owns her own; Bird and bee Sing creation's music on; Nature's glee Is in every mood and tone Eternity.
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem


 Remember the days of our first happiness,
how strong we were, how dazed by passion,
lying all day, then all night in the narrow bed,
sleeping there, eating there too: it was summer,
it seemed everything had ripened
at once.
And so hot we lay completely uncovered.
Sometimes the wind rose; a willow brushed the window.
But we were lost in a way, didn't you feel that? The bed was like a raft; I felt us drifting far from our natures, toward a place where we'd discover nothing.
First the sun, then the moon, in fragments, stone through the willow.
Things anyone could see.
Then the circles closed.
Slowly the nights grew cool; the pendant leaves of the willow yellowed and fell.
And in each of us began a deep isolation, though we never spoke of this, of the absence of regret.
We were artists again, my husband.
We could resume the journey.
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem


 Summer pleasures they are gone like to visions every one
And the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on
I tried to call them back but unbidden they are gone
Far away from heart and eye and for ever far away
Dear heart and can it be that such raptures meet decay
I thought them all eternal when by Langley Bush I lay
I thought them joys eternal when I used to shout and play
On its bank at 'clink and bandy' 'chock' and 'taw' and
 ducking stone
Where silence sitteth now on the wild heath as her own
Like a ruin of the past all alone

When I used to lie and sing by old eastwells boiling spring
When I used to tie the willow boughs together for a 'swing'
And fish with crooked pins and thread and never catch a
With heart just like a feather- now as heavy as a stone
When beneath old lea close oak I the bottom branches broke
To make our harvest cart like so many working folk
And then to cut a straw at the brook to have a soak
O I never dreamed of parting or that trouble had a sting
Or that pleasures like a flock of birds would ever take to
Leaving nothing but a little naked spring

When jumping time away on old cross berry way
And eating awes like sugar plumbs ere they had lost the may
And skipping like a leveret before the peep of day
On the rolly polly up and downs of pleasant swordy well
When in round oaks narrow lane as the south got black again
We sought the hollow ash that was shelter from the rain
With our pockets full of peas we had stolen from the grain
How delicious was the dinner time on such a showry day
O words are poor receipts for what time hath stole away
The ancient pulpit trees and the play

When for school oer 'little field' with its brook and wooden
Where I swaggered like a man though I was not half so big
While I held my little plough though twas but a willow twig
And drove my team along made of nothing but a name
'Gee hep' and 'hoit' and 'woi'- O I never call to mind
These pleasant names of places but I leave a sigh behind
While I see the little mouldywharps hang sweeing to the wind
On the only aged willow that in all the field remains
And nature hides her face where theyre sweeing in their
And in a silent murmuring complains

Here was commons for the hills where they seek for
 freedom still
Though every commons gone and though traps are set to kill
The little homeless miners- O it turns my bosom chill
When I think of old 'sneap green' puddocks nook and hilly
Where bramble bushes grew and the daisy gemmed in dew
And the hills of silken grass like to cushions to the view
When we threw the pissmire crumbs when we's nothing
 else to do
All leveled like a desert by the never weary plough
All vanished like the sun where that cloud is passing now
All settled here for ever on its brow

I never thought that joys would run away from boys
Or that boys would change their minds and forsake such
 summer joys
But alack I never dreamed that the world had other toys
To petrify first feelings like the fable into stone
Till I found the pleasure past and a winter come at last
Then the fields were sudden bare and the sky got overcast
And boyhoods pleasing haunts like a blossom in the blast
Was shrivelled to a withered weed and trampled down and
Till vanished was the morning spring and set that summer
And winter fought her battle strife and won

By Langley bush I roam but the bush hath left its hill
On cowper green I stray tis a desert strange and chill
And spreading lea close oak ere decay had penned its will
To the axe of the spoiler and self interest fell a prey
And cross berry way and old round oaks narrow lane
With its hollow trees like pulpits I shall never see again
Inclosure like a Buonaparte let not a thing remain
It levelled every bush and tree and levelled every hill
And hung the moles for traitors - though the brook is
 running still
It runs a naked brook cold and chill

O had I known as then joy had left the paths of men
I had watched her night and day besure and never slept agen
And when she turned to go O I'd caught her mantle then
And wooed her like a lover by my lonely side to stay
Aye knelt and worshipped on as love in beautys bower
And clung upon her smiles as a bee upon her flower
And gave her heart my poesys all cropt in a sunny hour
As keepsakes and pledges to fade away
But love never heeded to treasure up the may
So it went the comon road with decay

Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem

Evening Primrose

 When once the sun sinks in the west,
And dewdrops pearl the evening's breast;
Almost as pale as moonbeams are,
Or its companionable star,
The evening primrose opes anew
Its delicate blossoms to the dew;
And, hermit-like, shunning the light,
Wastes its fair bloom upon the night,
Who, blindfold to its fond caresses,
Knows not the beauty it possesses;
Thus it blooms on while night is by;
When day looks out with open eye,
Bashed at the gaze it cannot shun,
It faints and withers and is gone.
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem


 Christmass is come and every hearth
Makes room to give him welcome now
Een want will dry its tears in mirth
And crown him wi a holly bough
Tho tramping neath a winters sky
Oer snow track paths and ryhmey stiles
The huswife sets her spining bye
And bids him welcome wi her smiles
Each house is swept the day before
And windows stuck wi evergreens
The snow is beesomd from the door
And comfort crowns the cottage scenes
Gilt holly wi its thorny pricks
And yew and box wi berrys small
These deck the unusd candlesticks
And pictures hanging by the wall

Neighbours resume their anual cheer
Wishing wi smiles and spirits high
Clad christmass and a happy year
To every morning passer bye
Milk maids their christmass journeys go
Accompanyd wi favourd swain
And childern pace the crumping snow
To taste their grannys cake again

Hung wi the ivys veining bough
The ash trees round the cottage farm
Are often stript of branches now
The cotters christmass hearth to warm
He swings and twists his hazel band
And lops them off wi sharpend hook
And oft brings ivy in his hand
To decorate the chimney nook

Old winter whipes his ides bye
And warms his fingers till he smiles
Where cottage hearths are blazing high
And labour resteth from his toils
Wi merry mirth beguiling care
Old customs keeping wi the day
Friends meet their christmass cheer to share
And pass it in a harmless way

Old customs O I love the sound
However simple they may be
What ere wi time has sanction found
Is welcome and is dear to me
Pride grows above simplicity
And spurns it from her haughty mind
And soon the poets song will be
The only refuge they can find

The shepherd now no more afraid
Since custom doth the chance bestow
Starts up to kiss the giggling maid
Beneath the branch of mizzletoe
That neath each cottage beam is seen
Wi pearl-like-berrys shining gay
The shadow still of what hath been
Which fashion yearly fades away

And singers too a merry throng
At early morn wi simple skill
Yet imitate the angels song
And chant their christmass ditty still
And mid the storm that dies and swells
By fits-in humings softly steals
The music of the village bells
Ringing round their merry peals

And when its past a merry crew
Bedeckt in masks and ribbons gay
The 'Morrice danse' their sports renew
And act their winter evening play
The clown-turnd-kings for penny praise
Storm wi the actors strut and swell
And harlequin a laugh to raise
Wears his hump back and tinkling bell

And oft for pence and spicy ale
Wi winter nosgays pind before
The wassail singer tells her tale
And drawls her christmass carrols oer
The prentice boy wi ruddy face
And ryhme bepowderd dancing locks
From door to door wi happy pace
Runs round to claim his 'christmass box'

The block behind the fire is put
To sanction customs old desires
And many a faggots bands are cut
For the old farmers christmass fires
Where loud tongd gladness joins the throng
And winter meets the warmth of may
Feeling by times the heat too strong
And rubs his shins and draws away

While snows the window panes bedim
The fire curls up a sunny charm
Where creaming oer the pitchers rim
The flowering ale is set to warm
Mirth full of joy as summer bees
Sits there its pleasures to impart
While childern tween their parents knees
Sing scraps of carrols oer by heart

And some to view the winter weathers
Climb up the window seat wi glee
Likening the snow to falling feathers
In fancys infant extacy
Laughing wi superstitious love
Oer visions wild that youth supplyes
Of people pulling geese above
And keeping christmass in the skyes

As tho the homstead trees were drest
In lieu of snow wi dancing leaves
tho the sundryd martins nest Instead of ides hung the eaves The childern hail the happy day As if the snow was april grass And pleasd as neath the warmth of may Sport oer the water froze to glass Thou day of happy sound and mirth That long wi childish memory stays How blest around the cottage hearth I met thee in my boyish days Harping wi raptures dreaming joys On presents that thy coming found The welcome sight of little toys The christmass gifts of comers round 'The wooden horse wi arching head Drawn upon wheels around the room The gilded coach of ginger bread And many colord sugar plumb Gilt coverd books for pictures sought Or storys childhood loves to tell Wi many a urgent promise bought To get tomorrows lesson well And many a thing a minutes sport Left broken on the sanded floor When we woud leave our play and court Our parents promises for more Tho manhood bids such raptures dye And throws such toys away as vain Yet memory loves to turn her eye And talk such pleasures oer again Around the glowing hearth at night The harmless laugh and winter tale Goes round-while parting friends delight To toast each other oer their ale The cotter oft wi quiet zeal Will musing oer his bible lean While in the dark the lovers steal To kiss and toy behind the screen The yule cake dotted thick wi plumbs Is on each supper table found And cats look up for falling crumbs Which greedy childern litter round And huswifes sage stuffd seasond chine Long hung in chimney nook to drye And boiling eldern berry wine To drink the christmass eves 'good bye'
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem


 See what delights in sylvan scenes appear!
Descending Gods have found Elysium here.
In woods bright Venus with Adonis stray'd, And chaste Diana haunts the forest shade.
Come lovely nymph, and bless the silent hours, When swains from shearing seek their nightly bow'rs; When weary reapers quit the sultry field, And crown'd with corn, their thanks to Ceres yield.
This harmless grove no lurking viper hides, But in my breast the serpent Love abides.
Here bees from blossoms sip the rosy dew, But your Alexis knows no sweets but you.
Oh deign to visit our forsaken seats, The mossy fountains, and the green retreats! Where-e'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade, Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade, Where-e'er you tread, the blushing flow'rs shall rise, And all things flourish where you turn your eyes.
Oh! How I long with you to pass my days, Invoke the muses, and resound your praise; Your praise the birds shall chant in ev'ry grove, And winds shall waft it to the pow'rs above.
But wou'd you sing, and rival Orpheus' strain, The wond'ring forests soon shou'd dance again, The moving mountains hear the pow'rful call, And headlong streams hang list'ning in their fall! But see, the shepherds shun the noon-day heat, The lowing herds to murm'ring brooks retreat, To closer shades the panting flocks remove, Ye Gods! And is there no relief for Love? But soon the sun with milder rays descends To the cool ocean, where his journey ends; On me Love's fiercer flames for every prey, By night he scorches, as he burns by day.
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem


 The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion of what becomes
 a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.
Written by John Clare | Create an image from this poem

I Am

 I am: yet what I am none cares or knows
 My friends forsake me like a memory lost,
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
 They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love's frenzied, stifled throes—
And yet I am, and live—like vapors tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
 Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
 But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
Even the dearest, that I love the best,
Are strange—nay, rather stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes, where man hath never trod, A place where woman never smiled or wept— There to abide with my Creator, God, And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, Untroubling, and untroubled where I lie, The grass below—above the vaulted sky.