John Clare

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O how I feel, just as I pluck the flower
And stick it to my breast — words can't reveal;
But there are souls that in this lovely hour
Know all I mean, and feel whate'er I feel.

John Clare (13 July 179320 May 1864) was an English poet, commonly known as "the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet". The son of a farm labourer, he was born at Helpston near Peterborough.


Popularity of Authorship (1824)[edit]

(Essay published in The European Magazine 1825 New Series vol 1 no 3)

  • Popularity is a hasty and busy talker, she catches hold of topics and offers them to fame without giving herself time to reflect whether they are true or false.
  • Fashion is her (Popularity) favourite disciple.
  • Superstition lives longer than books, it is engraved on the human mind 'til it becomes a part of its existence.

Poems Chiefly from Manuscript[edit]

(Edmund Blunden and Alan Porter 1920)

  • And what is Life? — An hour-glass on the run,
    • "What is Life?"
  • And don't despise your betters cause they're old.
    • "The Cross Roads; or, The Haymaker's Story"
  • Throw not my words away, as many do;
    They're gold in value, though they're cheap to you.
    • "The Cross Roads; or, The Haymaker's Story"
  • And what's more wonderful, when big loads foil
    One ant or two to carry, quickly then
    A swarm flock round to help their fellow-men.
    • "The Ants"
  • In politics and politicians' lies
    The modern farmer waxes wondrous wise;
    • "The Parish: A Satire"
  • When trouble haunts me, need I sigh?
    No, rather smile away despair;
    • "The Stranger"
  • I hid my love when young till I
    Couldn't bear the buzzing of a fly;
    I hid my love to my despite
    Till I could not bear to look at light:
    I dare not gaze upon her face
    But left her memory in each place;
    Where eer I saw a wild flower lie
    I kissed and bade my love good bye.
    • "Secret Love"
  • I hid my love in field and town
    Till een the breeze would knock me down,
    The bees seemed singing ballads oer,
    The fly's bass turned a lion's roar;
    And even silence found a tongue,
    To haunt me all the summer long;
    The riddle nature could not prove
    Was nothing else but secret love.
    • "Secret Love"
  • O how I feel, just as I pluck the flower
    And stick it to my breast — words can't reveal;
    But there are souls that in this lovely hour
    Know all I mean, and feel whate'er I feel.
    • "Nature"
  • This world has suns, but they are overcast;
    This world has sweets, but they're of ling'ring bloom;
    Life still expects, and empty falls at last;
    Warm Hope on tiptoe drops into the tomb.
    • "Hope"
  • To-morrow comes, true copy of to-day,
    And empty shadow of what is to be;
    Yet cheated Hope on future still depends,
    And ends but only when our being ends.
    • "Hope"
  • The ivyed oaks dark shadow falls
    Oft picking up with wondering gaze
    Some little thing of other days
    Saved from the wreck of time.
    • The Shepherd's Calendar: "July" (second version) [1]
  • I love to see the old heath's withered brake
    Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling,
    While the old heron from the lonely lake
    Starts slow and flaps its melancholy wing
    • Emmonsail's Heath in Winter
  • 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 shades in love and death's oblivion lost:
    And yet I am, and live with shadows tost
    • I am


  • Arts may ply fantastic anatomy but nature is always herself in her wildest moods of extravagence.
    • 'Essay on Landscape'

External links[edit]

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