Solitude (II) part 5


So leave wi silent long farwell
    Vain life—as left the snail his shell
    All this when there my eyes behold
    On every stone & heap of mould
    Solitude & thou art sweet
    Somthing solemn tho to meet
    When wi listning pause I look
    Round the pillars ruind nook
    Glooms revealing dim descryd
    Ghosts companiond by thy side
    Where in old deformity
    Ancient arches sweepeth high
    & the storms the painted pane
    Growls in angry mood again

Solitude (II) part 4

    While worms like me are mouldering laid
    Wi nothing set to say theyre dead
    All the difference trifling thing
    That notes at last the slave & king
    As witherd leaves lifes bloom was stopt
    That drops in autumn so they dropt
    As snails wi in their painted shell
    So snugly once was known to dwell
    When in the schoolboys care we view
    The pleasing toys of varied hue
    By age or accident theyre flown
    An empty shell & tenant gone
    So pass we from the worlds affairs
    & carless vanish from its cares

Solitude (II) part 3

    Turning there the nettles bye
    Where the grave stone meets ones eye
    Soon full soon to read & see
    That all below is vanity
    & man to me a gauling thing
    Ownd creations lord & king
    A minutes length a zephers breath
    Sport of fate & prey of death

    Neath the power of death the same
    As wants low wormlings are to him
    Tyrant to day to morrow gone
    All 'stinguished only by a stone
    That feign woud have the eye to know
    Prides better dust is laid below

Solitude (II) part 2

    Dizzy nauntling high & proud
    Top stone loosing in a cloud
    Where the cross to time resignd
    Creaking harshly in the wind
    Crowning high the rifted dome
    Points the pilgrims wisht for home
    While the look fear turns away
    Shuddering at its dread decay
    Then let me my peace pursue
    Neath the shades of gloomy yew
    Dolfull hung wi mourning green
    Suiting well the solemn scene

    There as I may learn to scan
    Mites illustrious called man

Solitude (II)

Many will now have at least seen Anne Lee's wonderful little book which contains the first half of the 1921 (Village Minstrel) poem 'Solitude', few however, will know the second half of that poem - A different work entirely in my opinion - so over the next little while I shall post it here.  Dark and gothic, it uses Peterborough Cathedral as its binding motive.  However, Clare's political opinions surface time and time again.  The version I will be posting will be that I transcribed from Clare's manuscript, not the version Taylor and Hessey published.

    But as sorrows more opress
    As the world does more distress
    Yielding as misfortunes lower
    Dulging mellancholys hour
    Wishing to despise as then
    Brunts of fate & scorn of men
    When fates demons thus intrude
    Then I seek thee solitude

    Where the abbys height appears
    Hoary neath a weight of years
    Where the mouldering walls are seen
    Hung wi pelitorry green
    Where the steeples taper stretch
    Tries the eye its length to reach

Round Oak (excerpt)

[Image: Shelly Rolinson]

& oft wi shepherds he woud sit to sigh
On past delights of many a by gone day
& look on scenes now naked to the eye
& talk as how they once were clothed gay
& how the runnel wound its weedy way
& how the willows on its margin grew
Talk oer wi them the rural feats of may
Who got the blossoms neath the morning dew
That the last garland made & where such blossoms grew
As how he coud remember well when he
Laden wi blooming treasures from the plain
Has mixt wi them beneath a dotterel tree
Drove from his cowslips by a hasty rain

The Village Minstrel (1821)


To lock up Water—must undoubted stand
Among the Customs of a Christian land
An Action quite Uncommon and unknown
Or only practic'd in this place alone
A Thing unheard of yet in Prose or Rhyme
And only witness'd at this present time
—But some there is—a stain to Christian Blood
That cannot bear to do a Neighbour good
—No!—to be kind and use another well
With them's a torment ten times worse then hell

Such Fiends as these whose charity wornt give
The begging Wretch a single chance to live
—Who to nor Cats nor Dogs one crumb bestows
Who even grut[c]h the droppings of their Nose
—Its my Opinion of such Marngrel curs
Whom Nature scorns to own and Man abhors
That could they find a f---t of any use
They'd even burst before they'd set it loose!

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger 
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)