Tuesday, November 11, 2014
How fresh the air the birds how busy now
In every walk if I but peep I find
Nests newly made or finished all and lined
With hair and thistle down and in the bough
Of little awthorn huddled up in green
The leaves still thickening as the spring gets age
The Pinks quite round and snug and closely laid
And linnets of materials loose and rough
And still hedge sparrow moping in the shade
Near the hedge bottom weaves of homely stuff
Dead grass and mosses green an hermitage
For secresy and shelter rightly made
And beautiful it is to walk beside
The lanes and hedges where their homes abide.
John Clare (1793-1864)
I've been intrigued with John Clare since reading Adam Foulds' Booker nominated novel, The Quickening Maze which includes Clare, along with Alfred, Lord Tennyson, among its protagonists. John Clare was born in Northamptonshire and was an agricultural labourer, but also a very prolific nature poet. I have taken the above poem from a recently acquired volume, "The Poetry of Birds" edited by Simon Armitage and Tim Dee. They note in the foreword that Clare wrote about 147 different species of birds. Quite an accomplishment. Sadly, he ended his days in a lunatic asylum.
I copied the poem quite carefully, so the odd spellings "awthorn" and "secresy" as far as I can tell are the original spellings used by the poet.
I took the photo at the head of the post a month or two back, I loved the way that the elongated leaf hangs delicately by a thread from this nest that I found in our yard. So I decided that this poem was a great excuse to use the photo.
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