October 28, 2004

John Clare poems on hay.

John Clare.John Clare (1793-1864).

John Clare (1793-1864).
“Haymaking” [sonnet]

John Clare (1793-1864).
“The Meadow Hay”

John Clare (1793-1864).
“To Julia”

John Clare (1793-1864).
“Ballad [We’ll walk among the the tedded hay]”

Dupre. Second crop. 19th c. Clare deserves his own section for his contribution to the Romantic movement of at least five poems on haymaking. All reflect his rural Northamptonshire childhood and all were written in the 1820s and 1830s. Sunnily optimistic, they sing of love and life in the English countryside and give no hint that the poet would spend the last decades of his life in an insane asylum.

John Clare (1793-1864).
from The Later Poems (1984).

Constable. Hayfield near East Bergholt. 1812.
Among the meadow hay cocks
'Tis beautiful to lie
When pleasantly the day looks
And gold like is the sky

How lovely looks the hay-swarth
When turning to the sun
How richly looks the dark path
When the rickings all are done

There's nothing looks more lovely
As a meadow field in cock
There's nothing sounds more sweetly
As the evenings six o' clock

There's nothing sounds so welcome
As their singing at their toil
Sweet maidens with tan'd faces
And bosoms fit to broil
Runciman. Allegro. 1773.
And its beautiful to look on
How the hay-cleared meadow lies
How the sun pours down his welcome heat
Like gold from yonder skies

[Page 282]
There's a calm upon the level
When the sun is getting low
Smooth as a lawn is the green level
Save where swarths their pointings shew

There the mother makes a journey
With a babbie at her breast
While the sun is fit to burn ye
On the sabath day at rest

There's nothing like such beauty
With a woman ere compares
Unless the love within her arms
The infant which she heirs.

Cox. Haymaking. 1810. John Clare (1793-1864).
“Haymaking” [sonnet]
from The Midsummer Cushion (1990)]

Tis haytime & the red complexioned sun
Was scarcely up ere blackbirds had begun
Along the meadow hedges here & there
To sing loud songs to the sweet smelling air
Where breath of flowers & grass & happy cow
Fling oer ones senses streams of fragrance now
While in some pleasant nook the swain & maid
Lean oer their rakes & loiter in the shade
Or bend a minute oer the bridge & throw
Crumbs in their leisure to the fish below
---Hark at that happy shout---& song between
Tis pleasures birthday in her meadow scene
What joy seems half so rich from pleasure won
As the loud laugh of maidens in the sun.

Brooke. Haymakers' lunch. John Clare (1793-1864).
“The Meadow Hay” [sonnet]
from The Midsummer Cushion (1990)

I often roam a minute from the path
Just to luxuriate on the new mown swath
& stretch me at my idle length along
Hum louder oer some melody or song
While passing stranger slackens in his pace
& turns to wonder what can haunt the place
Unthinking that an idle ryhmster lies
Buried in the sweet grass & feeding phantasys
This happy spirit of the joyous day
Stirs every pulse of life into the play
Of buoyant joy & extacy---I walk
& hear the very weeds to sing & talk
Of their delights as the delighted wind
Toys with them like playfellows ever kind.

Cameron. Going to the hay. 1858. John Clare (1793-1864).
“To Julia”
from The Later Poems (1984).

Dear Julia! now the new mown hay
Is littered o'er the narrow path,
We'll in the meadows spend the day,
And sit upon the scented swath;
We'll rest upon the fragrant hay,
Dear Julia! in the willows shade;
In fond affection spend the day:
And there I'll love my bonny maid

[Page 914 ]
The knap weed falls before the scythe,
And clumps of tawney meadow sweet,
Ploughmen in fallows, whistle blythe,
Where I, and bonny Julia meet.
How sweetly cool the river runs!
How richly green the flags appear!
More yellow than the brightest suns,
The sweetest place in all the year---
We'll gather lamb toes in the grass
Brown tanned and hot as Julia's face,
And Burnet flower, a tawney lass,
And rattles like a pencil case
That sound and rattles in the hand,
For which the village boys will run:
For these I'll sea[r]ch about the land,
And walk with Julia in the sun---
Dear Julia! now the new mown hay
Is littered oer the narrow path,
We'll in the meadows spend the day,
And walk among the scented swath,
Dear Julia! in the willow's shade,
We'll sit upon the fragrant hay,
And love, and live throughout the day.
To 'Julia Wiggington'

Dahling. At the garden fence. 1820. John Clare (1793-1864).
“Ballad [We’ll walk among the the tedded hay]”
from The Later Poems (1984).

We'll walk among the tedded hay,
That smells as sweet as flowers;
While the meadow water winds its way
Beneath the hawthorn bowers.

And when the bright green haycocks throw
Their shadows from the sun,
When thou art weary there we'll go,
And rest, the heat to shun.

[Page 383 ]
We'll to the hawthorn shades retire,
Where blooms the wild dog rose;
And smell the sweetly scented briar,
Where the shining river flows.
We'll talk o'er joys we once could prove,
And blithely spend the day,
For those pleasant dreams of early youth
Can never pass away.

June 18/44.

Posted by Alan Ritch at October 28, 2004 12:26 PM