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A balmy briskness comes upon the breeze;
The smoke goes dancing from the cottage trees;
And when you listen, you may hear a coil
Of bubbling springs about the grassy soil;
And all the scene, in short-sky, earth, and sea,
Breathes like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out

'Tis nature, full of spirits, waked and springing:
The birds to the delicious time are singing,
Darting with freaks and snatches up and down,
Where the light woods go seaward from the town;
While happy faces, striking through the green
Of leafy roads, at every turn are seen;
And the far ships, lifting their sails of white
Like joyful hands, come up with scattery light,
Come gleaming up, true to the wished-for day,
And chase the whistling brine, and swirl into the bay.
Already in the streets the stir grows loud,
Of expectation and a bustling crowd.

With feet and voice the gathering hum contends,
The deep talk heaves, the ready laugh ascends;
Callings, and clapping doors, and curs unite,
And shouts from mere exuberance of delight;
And armed bands, making important way,
Gallant and grave, the lords of holiday,
And nodding neighbours, greeting as they run,
And pilgrims, chanting in the morning sun.


[Funeral of the Lovers in Rimini.']

The days were then at close of autumn still,
A little rainy, and, towards nightfall, chill;
There was a fitful moaning air abroad;
And ever and anon, over the road,

The last few leaves came fluttering from the trees, Whose trunks now thronged to sight, in dark varieties. The people, who from reverence kept at home, Listened till afternoon to hear them come;

And hour on hour went by, and nought was heard
But some chance horseman or the wind that stirred,
Till towards the vesper hour; and then 'twas said
Some heard a voice, which seemed as if it read;
And others said that they could hear a sound
Of many horses trampling the moist ground.
Still, nothing came-till on a sudden, just
As the wind opened in a rising gust,

A voice of chanting rose, and as it spread,
They plainly heard the anthem for the dead.
It was the choristers who went to meet

The train, and now were entering the first street.
Then turned aside that city, young and old,
And in their lifted hands the gushing sorrow rolled.
But of the older people, few could bear

To keep the window, when the train drew near;
And all felt double tenderness to see

The bier approaching slow and steadily,
On which those two in senseless coldness lay,
Who but a few short months-it seemed a day-
Had left their walls, lovely in form and mind,
In sunny manhood he-she first of womankind.
They say that when Duke Guido saw them come,
He clasped his hands, and looking round the room,
Lost his old wits for ever. From the morrow
None saw him after. But no more of sorrow.
On that same night those lovers silently
Were buried in one grave under a tree;
There, side by side, and hand in hand, they lay
In the green ground: and on fine nights in May
Young hearts betrothed used to go there to pray.

To T. L. H., Six Years Old, During a Sickness.
Sleep breathes at last from out thee,
My little patient boy;

And balmy rest about thee

Smooths off the day's annoy.

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Dirge. Blessed is the turf, serenely blessed, Where throbbing hearts may sink to rest, Where life's long journey turns to sleep, Nor ever pilgrim wakes to weep. A little sod, a few sad flowers, A tear for long-departed hours, Is all that feeling hearts request To hush their weary thoughts to rest. There shall no vain ambition come To lure them from their quiet home; Nor sorrow lift, with heart-strings riven, The meek imploring eye to heaven; Nor sad remembrance stoop to shed His wrinkles on the slumberer's head; And never, never love repair To breathe his idle whispers there!

To the Grasshopper and the Cricket. Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,

Catching your heart up at the feel of June, Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon, When even the bees lag at the summoning brass; And you, warm little housekeeper, who class

With those who think the candles come too soon, Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;

Oh, sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are


At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth

To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song-

In-doors and out, summer and winter, mirth.

Clear, fresh, and dulcet streams,
Which the fair shape, who seems

To me sole woman, haunted at noontide;


JOHN CLARE, one of the most truly uneducated of The Celebrated Canzone of Petrarch- Chiare, fresche, e English poets, and one of the best of our rural dedolce acque.'

scribers, was born at Helpstone, a village near Peterborough, in 1793. His parents were peasants -his father a helpless cripple and a pauper. John obtained some education by his own extra work as a ploughboy: from the labour of eight weeks he generally acquired as many pence as paid for a month's schooling. At thirteen years of age he met with Thomson's Seasons, and hoarded up a shilling to purchase a copy. At daybreak on a spring morning, he walked to the town of Stamford-six or seven miles off-to make the purchase, and had to wait some time till the shops were opened. This is a fine trait of boyish enthusiasm, and of the struggles of youthful genius. Returning to his native village with the precious purchase, as he walked through the beautiful scenery of Burghley Park, he composed his first piece of poetry, which he called the Morning Walk. This was soon followed by the Evening Walk, and some other pieces. A benevolent exciseman instructed the young poet in writing and arithmetic, and he continued his obscure but ardent devotions to his rural muse. 'Most of his poems,' says the writer of a memoir prefixed to his first volume, were composed under the immediate impression of his feelings in the fields or on the road sides. He could not trust his memory, and therefore he wrote them

A stiller port after the stormy wind:

Nor in more calm abstracted bourne,

Slip from my travailed flesh, and from my bones out-down with a pencil on the spot, his hat serving him



for a desk; and if it happened that he had no opportunity soon after of transcribing these imperfect memorials, he could seldom decipher them or recover his first thoughts. From this cause several of his poems are quite lost, and others exist only in fragments. Of those which he had committed to writing, especially his earlier pieces, many were destroyed from another circumstance, which shows how little he expected to please others with them: from a hole in the wall of his room where he stuffed his manuscripts, a piece of paper was often taken to hold the kettle with, or light the fire.' In 1817, Clare, while working at Bridge Casterton, in Rutlandshire, resolved on risking the publication of a volume. By hard working day and night, he got a pound saved, that he might have a prospectus printed. This was accordingly done, and a Collection of Original Trifles was announced to subscribers, the price not to exceed 3s. 6d. I distributed my papers,' he says; but as I could get at no way of pushing them into higher circles than those with whom I was acquainted, they consequently passed off as quietly as if they had been still in my possession, unprinted and unseen.' Only seven subscribers came forward! One of these prospectuses, however, led to an acquaintance with Mr Edward Drury, the poems were published by Messrs Taylor and bookseller, Stamford, and through this gentleman Hessey, London, who purchased them from Clare for £20. The volume was brought out in January 1820, with an interesting well-written introduction, and bearing the title, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, by John Clare, a Northamptonshire peasant. The attention of the public was instantly awakened to the circumstances and the merits of Clare. The magazines and reviews were unanimous in his favour. This interesting little volume,' said the Quarterly Review, bears indubit

Bough, gently interknit

(I sigh to think of it),

Which formed a rustic chair for her sweet side;
And turf, and flowers bright-eyed,

O'er which her folded gown

Flowed like an angel's down;

And you, O holy air and hushed,
Where first my heart at her sweet glances gushed;
Give ear, give ear, with one consenting,

To my last words, my last and my lamenting.

If 'tis my fate below,

And Heaven will have it so,

That love must close these dying eyes in tears,
May my poor dust be laid

In middle of your shade,

While my soul, naked, mounts to its own spheres.
The thought would calm my fears,
When taking, out of breath,
The doubtful step of death;

For never could my spirit find

Perhaps, some future hour,
To her accustomed bower

Might come the untamed, and yet the gentle she;
And where she saw me first,

Might turn with eyes athirst,

And kinder joy to look again for me;

Then, O the charity!

Seeing betwixt the stones

The earth that held my bones,

A sigh for very love at last

Might ask of Heaven to pardon me the past;

And Heaven itself could not say nay,

As with her gentle veil she wiped the tears away.

How well I call to mind

When from those bowers the wind

Shook down upon her bosom flower on flower ;
And there she sat, meek-eyed,
In midst of all that pride,

Sprinkled and blushing through an amorous shower.
Some to her hair paid dower,
And seemed to dress the curls,
Queen-like, with gold and pearls ;
Some, snowing, on her drapery stopped;
Some on the earth, some on the water dropped;
While others, fluttering from above,
Seemed wheeling round in pomp, and saying 'Here
reigns Love.'

How often then I said,

Inward, and filled with dread,
'Doubtless this creature came from Paradise!'
For at her look the while,

Her voice, and her sweet smile,
And heavenly air, truth parted from mine eyes:
So that, with long-drawn sighs,

I said, as far from men,
'How came I here-and when?'

I had forgotten; and, alas!
Fancied myself in heaven, not where I was;
And from that time till this, I bear

Such love for the green bower, I cannot rest elsewhere.

able evidence of being composed altogether from the impulses of the writer's mind, as excited by external objects and internal sensations. Here are no tawdry and feeble paraphrases of former poets, no attempts at describing what the author might have become acquainted with in his limited reading. The woods, the vales, the brooks, "the crimson spots i' the bottom of a cowslip," or the loftier phenomena of the heavens, contemplated through the alternations of hope and despondency, are the principal sources whence the youth, whose adverse circumstances and resignation under them extort our sympathy, drew the faithful and vivid pictures before us. Examples of minds highly gifted by nature, struggling with, and breaking through the bondage of adversity, are not rare in this country: but privation is not destitution; and the instance before us is, perhaps, one of the most striking of patient and persevering talent existing and enduring in the most forlorn, and seemingly hopeless condition, that literature has at any time exhibited.'

In a short time Clare was in possession of a little fortune. The present Earl Fitzwilliam sent £100 to his publishers, which, with the like sum advanced by them, was laid out in the purchase of stock; the Marquis of Exeter allowed him an annuity of fifteen guineas for life; the Earl of Spencer a further annuity of £10, and various contributions were received from other noblemen and gentlemen, so that the poet had a permanent allowance of £30 per annum. He married his Patty of the Vale,' the rosebud in humble life,' the daughter of a neighbouring farmer; and in his native cottage at Helpstone, with his aged and infirm parents and his young wife by his side-all proud of his now warded and successful genius-Clare basked in the sunshine of a poetical felicity. The writer of this recollects, with melancholy pleasure, paying a visit to the poet at this genial season in company with one of his publishers. The humble dwelling wore an air of comfort and contented happiness. Shelves were fitted up, filled with books, most of which had been sent as presents. Clare read and liked them all! He took us to see his favourite scene, the haunt of his inspiration. It was a low fall of swampy ground, used as a pasture, and bounded by a dull rushy brook, overhung with willows. Yet here Clare strayed and mused delighted.

Flow on, thou gently-plashing stream,
O'er weed-beds wild and rank;
Delighted I've enjoyed my dream

Upon thy mossy bank:
Bemoistening many a weedy stem,

I've watched thee wind so clearly,
And on thy bank I found the gem
That makes me love thee dearly.

is now, we believe, in a private asylum-hopeless, but not dead to passing events. This sad termination of so bright a morning it is painful to contemplate. Amidst the native wild flowers of his song we looked not for the deadly nightshade'—and, though the example of Burns, of Chatterton, and Bloomfield, was better fitted to inspire fear than hope, there was in Clare a naturally lively and cheerful temperament, and an apparent absence of strong and dangerous passions, that promised, as in the case of Allan Ramsay, a life of humble yet prosperous contentment and happiness. Poor Clare's muse was the true offspring of English country life. He was a faithful painter of rustic scenes and occupations, and he noted every light and shade of his brooks, meadows, and green lanes. His fancy was buoyant in the midst of labour and hardship; and his imagery, drawn directly from nature, is various and original. Careful finishing could not be expected from the rustic poet, yet there is often a fine delicacy and beauty in his pieces, and his moral reflections and pathos win their way to the heart. It is seldom,' as one of his critics remarked, 'that the public have an opportunity of learning the unmixed and unadulterated impression of the loveliness of nature on a man of vivid perception and strong feeling, equally unacquainted with the art and reserve of the world, and with the riches, rules, and prejudices of literature.' Clare was strictly such a man. His reading before his first publication had been extremely limited, and did not either form his taste or bias the direction of his powers. He wrote out of the fulness of his heart; and his love of nature was so universal, that he included all, weeds as well as re-flowers, in his picturesque catalogues of her charms. In grouping and forming his pictures, he has recourse to new and original expressions-as, for example

In 1821 Clare came forward again as a poet. His second publication was entitled The Village Minstrel and other Poems, in two volumes. The first of these pieces is in the Spenserian stanza, and describes the scenes, sports, and feelings of rural life-the author himself sitting for the portrait of Lubin, the humble rustic who hummed his lowly dreams'

Far in the shade where poverty retires. The descriptions of scenery, as well as the expression of natural emotion and generous sentiment in this poem, exalted the reputation of Clare as a true poet. He afterwards contributed short pieces to the annuals and other periodicals, marked by a more choice and refined diction. The poet's prosperity was, alas! soon over. His discretion was not equal to his fortitude: he speculated in farming, wasted his little hoard, and amidst accumulating difficulties sank into nervous despondency and despair. He

Brisk winds the lightened branches shake

By pattering, plashing drops confessed;
And, where oaks dripping shade the lake,
Paint crimping dimples on its breast.
A sonnet to the glow-worm is singularly rich in this
vivid word-painting :-

Tasteful illumination of the night,

Bright scattered, twinkling star of spangled earth!
Hail to the nameless coloured dark and light,
The witching nurse of thy illumined birth.
In thy still hour how dearly I delight

To rest my weary bones, from labour free ;
In lone spots, out of hearing, out of sight,
To sigh day's smothered pains; and pause on thee,
Bedecking dangling brier and ivied tree,
Or diamonds tipping on the grassy spear;
Thy pale-faced glimmering light I love to see,
Gilding and glistering in the dewdrop near:
O still-hour's mate! my easing heart sobs free,
While tiny bents low bend with many an added


In these happy microscopic views of nature, Grahame,
the author of the Sabbath, is the only poet who can
be put in competition with Clare. The delicacy of
some of his sentimental verses, mixed up in careless
profusion with others less correct or pleasing, may
be seen from the following part of a ballad, The Fate
of Amy :—

The flowers the sultry summer kills
Spring's milder suns restore;
But innocence, that fickle charm,

Blooms once, and blooms no more.
The swains who loved no more admire,
Their hearts no beauty warms;
And maidens triumph in her fall
That envied once her charms.

Lost was that sweet simplicity;
Her eye's bright lustre fled;

And o'er her cheeks, where roses bloomed,
A sickly paleness spread.

So fades the flower before its time, Where cankerworms assail;

So droops the bud upon its stem Beneath the sickly gale.

What is Life?

And what is Life? An hour-glass on the run,
A mist retreating from the morning sun,
A busy, bustling, still-repeated dream.

Its length? A minute's pause, a moment's thought. And Happiness? A bubble on the stream,

That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought. And what is Hope? The puffing gale of morn,

That robs each flowret of its gem-and dies; A cobweb, hiding disappointment's thorn,

Which stings more keenly through the thin disguise. And what is Death? Is still the cause unfound? That dark mysterious name of horrid sound? A long and lingering sleep the weary crave. And Peace? Where can its happiness abound?

No where at all, save heaven and the grave. Then what is Life! When stripped of its disguise, A thing to be desired it cannot be ; Since everything that meets our foolish eyes

Gives proof sufficient of its vanity. 'Tis but a trial all must undergo,

To teach unthankful mortal how to prize That happiness vain man's denied to know, Until he's called to claim it in the skies.

Summer Morning.

'Tis sweet to meet the morning breeze,
Or list the giggling of the brook;
Or, stretched beneath the shade of trees,
Peruse and pause on nature's book.
When nature every sweet prepares

To entertain our wished delay-
The images which morning wears,

The wakening charms of early day! Now let me tread the meadow paths,

Where glittering dew the ground illumes, As sprinkled o'er the withering swaths

Their moisture shrinks in sweet perfumes. And hear the beetle sound his horn,

And hear the skylark whistling nigh, Sprung from his bed of tufted corn,

A hailing minstrel in the sky. First sunbeam, calling night away

To see how sweet thy summons seems; Split by the willow's wavy gray,

And sweetly dancing on the streams.
How fine the spider's web is spun,

Unnoticed to vulgar eyes;
Its silk thread glittering in the sun
Arts bungling vanity defies.
Roaming while the dewy fields

'Neath their morning burthen lean, While its crop my searches shields,

Sweet I scent the blossomed bean. Making oft remarking stops;

Watching tiny nameless things Climb the grass's spiry tops

Ere they try their gauzy wings. So emerging into light,

From the ignorant and vain Fearful genius takes her flight, Skimming o'er the lowly plain.

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The Thrush's Nest-A Sonnet.

Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush
That overhung a molehill large and round,
I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns of rapture, while I drank the sound
With joy-and oft an unintruding guest,

I watched her secret toils from day to day; How true she warped the moss to form her nest,

And modelled it within with wood and clay. And by and by, like heath-bells gilt with dew,

There lay her shining eggs as bright as flowers, Ink-spotted over, shells of green and blue:

And there I witnessed, in the summer hours, A brood of nature's minstrels chirp and fly, Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky.*

First-Love's Recollections.

First-love will with the heart remain When its hopes are all gone by; As frail rose-blossoms still retain

Their fragrance when they die: And joy's first dreams will haunt the mind With the shades 'mid which they sprung, As summer leaves the stems behind On which spring's blossoms hung.

Mary, I dare not call thee dear,
I've lost that right so long;
Yet once again I vex thine ear

With memory's idle song.
I felt a pride to name thy name,

But now that pride hath flown,
And burning blushes speak my shame,
That thus I love thee on.

How loath to part, how fond to meet,
Had we two used to be;

At sunset, with what eager feet
I hastened unto thee!

Scarce nine days passed us ere we met
In spring, nay, wintry weather;
Now nine years' suns have risen and set,
Nor found us once together.

Thy face was so familiar grown,
Thyself so often nigh,

A moment's memory when alone,
Would bring thee in mine eye;

*Montgomery says quaintly but truly of this sonnet, 'Here we have in miniature the history and geography of a thrush's nest, so simply and naturally set forth, that one might think such strains

No more difficile

Than for a blackbird 'tis to whistle.

But let the heartless critic who despises them try his own hand either at a bird's nest or a sonnet like this; and when he has succeeded in making the one, he may have some Lope of being able to make the other.'

But now my very dreams forget
That witching look to trace;
Though there thy beauty lingers yet,
It wears a stranger's face.

When last that gentle cheek I prest,
And heard thee feign adieu,
I little thought that seeming jest
Would prove a word so true!
A fate like this hath oft befell

Even loftier hopes than ours; Spring bids full many buds to swell, That ne'er can grow to flowers.

Dawnings of Genius.

In those low paths which poverty surrounds,
The rough rude ploughman, off his fallow grounds
(That necessary tool of wealth and pride),
While moiled and sweating, by some pasture's side,
Will often stoop, inquisitive to trace
The opening beauties of a daisy's face;
Oft will he witness, with admiring eyes,
The brook's sweet dimples o'er the pebbles rise;
And often bent, as o'er some magic spell,
He'll pause and pick his shaped stone and shell:
Raptures the while his inward powers inflame,
And joys delight him which he cannot name;
Ideas picture pleasing views to mind,
For which his language can no utterance find;
Increasing beauties, freshening on his sight,
Unfold new charms, and witness more delight;
So while the present please, the past decay,
And in each other, losing, melt away.
Thus pausing wild on all he saunters by,
He feels enraptured, though he knows not why;
And hums and mutters o'er his joys in vain,
And dwells on something which he can't explain.
The bursts of thought with which his soul's perplexed,
Are bred one moment, and are gone the next;
Yet still the heart will kindling sparks retain,
And thoughts will rise, and Fancy strive again.
So have I marked the dying ember's light,
When on the hearth it fainted from my sight,
With glimmering glow oft redden up again,
And sparks crack brightening into life in vain;
Still lingering out its kindling hope to rise,
Till faint, and fainting, the last twinkle dies.

Dim burns the soul, and throbs the fluttering heart, Its painful pleasing feelings to impart ; Till by successless sallies wearied quite, The memory fails, and Fancy takes her flight: The wick, confined within its socket, dies, Borne down and smothered in a thousand sighs.

[Scenes and Musings of the Peasant Poet.] [From the Village Minstrel.']

Each opening season, and each opening scene, On his wild view still teemed with fresh delight; F'en winter's storms to him have welcome been, That brought him comfort in its long dark night, As joyful listening, while the fire burnt bright, Some neighbouring labourer's superstitious tale, How 'Jack-a-lantern,' with his wisp alight, To drown a 'nighted traveller once did fail, He knowing well the brook that whimpered down the vale.

And tales of fairyland he loved to hear,
Those mites of human forms, like skimming bees,
That fly and flirt about but everywhere;
The mystic tribes of night's unnerving breeze,
That through a lock-hole even creep with ease:
The freaks and stories of this elfin crew,

Ah! Lubin gloried in such things as these; How they rewarded industry he knew, And how the restless slut was pinchëd black and blue.

How ancient damnes a fairy's anger feared,
From gossip's stories Lubin often heard;
How they on every night the hearthstone cleared,
And, 'gainst their visits, all things neat prepared,
As fays nought more than cleanliness regard;
When in the morn they never failed to share
Or gold or silver as their meet reward,

Dropt in the water superstition's care, To make the charm succeed, had cautious placed


And thousands such the village keeps alive;
Beings that people superstitious earth,
That e'er in rural manners will survive,

As long as wild rusticity has birth

To spread their wonders round the cottage-hearth. On Lubin's mind these deeply were impressed; Oft fear forbade to share his neighbour's inirth: And long each tale, by fancy newly dressed, Brought fairies in his dreams, and broke his infant rest. He had his dreads and fears, and scarce could pass } A churchyard's dreary mounds at silent night, But footsteps trampled through the rustling grass, And ghosts 'hind grave-stones stood in sheets of white;

Dread monsters fancy moulded on his sight;
Soft would he step lest they his tread should hear,
And creep and creep till past his wild affright;
Then on wind's wings would rally, as it were,

So swift the wild retreat of childhood's fancied fear.

And when fear left him, on his corner-seat Much would he chatter o'er each dreadful tale; Tell how he heard the sound of 'proaching feet, And warriors jingling in their coats of mail; And lumping knocks as one would thump a flail; Of spirits conjured in the charnel floor; And many a mournful shriek and hapless wail, Where maids, self-murdered, their false loves deplore ; And from that time would vow to tramp on nights no


O! who can speak his joys when spring's young


From wood and pasture, opened on his view!
When tender green buds blush upon the thorn,
And the first primrose dips its leaves in dew:
Each varied charm how joyed would he pursue,
Tempted to trace their beauties through the day;
Gray-girdled eve and morn of rosy hue
Have both beheld him on his lonely way,

Far, far remote from boys, and their unpleasing play.

Sequestered nature was his heart's delight; Him would she lead through wood and lonely plain, Searching the pooty from the rushy dike; And while the thrush sang her long-silenced strain, He thought it sweet, and mocked it o'er again; And while he plucked the primrose in its pride, He pondered o'er its bloom 'tween joy and pain; And a rude sonnet in its praise he tried, Where nature's simple way the aid of art supplied.

The freshened landscapes round his routes unfurled,
The fine-tinged clouds above, the woods below,
Each met his eye a new-revealing world,
Delighting more as more he learned to know;
Each journey sweeter, musing to and fro.
Surrounded thus, not Paradise more sweet;
Enthusiasm made his soul to glow;

His heart with wild sensations used to beat;
As nature seemly sang, his mutterings would repeat.

Upon a molehill oft he dropt him down,
To take a prospect of the circling scene,
Marking how much the cottage roof's thatch brown
Did add its beauty to the budding green

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