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John Clare
1793-1864



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Burthorp Oak

I am! yet what I am none cares or knows
The milking hour
Language has not the power to speak what love indites
To Mary

To Mary

It is the evening hour,
How silent all doth lie,
The horned moon he shows his face
In the river with the sky.
Just by the path on which we pass,
The flaggy lake lies still as glass.
Spirit of her I love,
Whispering to me,
Stories of sweet visions, as I rove,
Here stop, and crop with me
Sweet flowers that in the still hour grew,
Well take them home, nor shake off the bright dew.
Mary, or sweet spirit of thee,
As the bright sun shines tomorrow.
Thy dark eyes these flowers shall see,
Gathered by me in sorrow.
In the still hour when my mind was free
Walk alone - yet wish I walked with thee.


Language has not the power to speak what love indites:
The Soul lies buried in the ink that writes.



1 I am! yet what I am none cares or knows,
2 My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
3 I am the self-consumer of my woes,
4 They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
5 Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
6 And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

7 Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
8 Into the living sea of waking dreams,
9 Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
10 But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
11 And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
12 Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

13 I long for scenes where man has never trod;
14 A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
15 There to abide with my creator, God,
16 And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
17 Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
18 The grass below--above the vaulted sky.


The milking hour

The sun had grown on lessening day
A table large and round
And in the distant vapours grey
Seemed leaning on the ground
When Mary like a lingering flower
Did tenderly agree
To stay beyond her milking hour
And talk awhile with me

We wandered till the distant town
Had silenced nearly dumb
And lessened on the quiet ear
Small as a beetles hum
She turned her buckets upside and down
And made us each a seat
And there we talked the evening brown
Beneath the rustling wheat

And while she milked her breathing cows
I sat beside the streams
In musing oer our evening joys
Like one in pleasant dreams
The bats and owls to meet the night
From hollow trees had gone
And een the flowers had shut for sleep
And still she lingered on

We mused in capture side by side
Our wishes seemed as one
We talked of times retreating tide
And sighed to find it gone
And we had sighed more deeply still
Oer all our pleasures past
If we had known what now we know
That we had met the last


Burthorp Oak

Old noted oak! I saw thee in a mood
Of vague indifference; and yet with me
Thy memory, like the fate, hath lingering stood
For years, yhou hermit, in the lonely sea
Of grass that waves around thee! Solitude
Paints not a lonelier picture to the view,
Burthorp! than thy one melancholy tree
Age-rent, and shattered to a stump. Yet new
Leaves come upon each rift and broken limb
With every spring; and and Poesy's visions swim
Around it, of old days and shivalry;
And desolate fancies bid the eyes grow dim
With feelings, that earth's grandeur should decay,
And all its olden memories pass away.


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2000 Elena and Yacov Feldman