John Clare (1793-1864)

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To Wordsworth

Wordsworth I love, his books are like the fields,
Not filled with flowers, but works of human kind;
The pleasant weed a fragrant pleasure yields,
The briar and broomwood shaken by the wind,
The thorn and bramble o'er the water shoot
A finer flower than gardens e'er gave birth,
The aged huntsman grubbing up the root--
I love them all as tenants of the earth:
Where genius is, there often die the seeds;
What critics throw away I love the more;
I love to stoop and look among the weeds,
To find a flower I never knew before;
Wordsworth, go on--a greater poet be;
Merit will live, though parties disagree!

The Yellowhammer

When shall I see the white thorn leaves agen
And yellowhammers gath'ring the dry bents
By the dyke side on stilly moor or fen
Feathered wi love and natures good intents
Rude is the nest this Architect invents
Rural the place wi cart ruts by dyke side
Dead grass, horse hair and downy headed bents
Tied to dead thistles she doth well provide
Close to a hill o' ants where cowslips bloom
And shed o'er meadows far their sweet perfume
In early Spring when winds blow chilly cold
The yellowhammer trailing grass will come
To fix a place and choose an early home
With yellow breast and head of solid gold.

To Elia

Elia, thy reveries and visioned themes
To care's lorn heart a luscious pleasure prove;
Wild as the mystery of delightful dreams,
Soft as the anguish of remembered love:
Like records of past days their memory dances
Mid the cool feelings manhood's reason brings,
As the unearthly visions of romances
Peopled with sweet and uncreated things;--
And yet thy themes thy gentle worth enhances!
Then wake again thy wild harp's tenderest strings,
Sing on, sweet Bard, let fairy loves again
Smile in thy dreams, with angel ecstasies;
Bright over our souls will break the heavenly strain
Through the dull gloom of earth's realities.