1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Clare

Edith, "Lines on reading the Poems of Clare" St. James's Chronicle (5 January 1822).



And thou art heir to poverty — decreed
To tread the paths of toil, and restless care;
And such a heart as thine was doom'd to bleed,
To bleed in youth, in comfortless despair.
What soul-born feelings were implanted there!
And thou wert forced to labour for thy bread,
O'er wither'd hopes — delusive dreams to mourn?
And thou hast thought that when thou laid'st thine head
Within the tomb from whence there's no return,
Thy fate untold — thy name unheard would'st die,
And only there the gentle night winds sigh.

Too oft, alas! the cultivated mind
Is lost in darkest errors, and the breast
Where sense and feeling are the most refin'd,
By these is rifled of contentments rest.
Sweet are the rural joys which thine have blest:
The setting sun, the lonely moonlight pale,
Had charms for thee no other scenes could bring;
There was a sadness in the evening gale,
When it swept o'er some flower of early spring:
And thus methinks thou fear'd thy lot might be
Thus swept from earth, each trace of Bard like thee!

And thou hast propp'd a Father's sinking years,
And thou with filial love hast wip'd away,
With duteous hand, a Mother's flowing tears,
And smooth'd with tenderness their life's decay;
For thee we'll spare one leaf of deathless bay:
Oh! yes, fond child of nature, while a tear
Is given to genius that has bloom'd like thine,
Thou shalt not want a mourner o'er thy bier;
Thou shalt not need a hand one wreath to twine
For him who lov'd the whsip'ring winds that wave
The unnotic'd weed that hides the Poet's grave!