John Clare, The Rural Muse (London: Whittaker, 1835). PR 4453 C6R8 ROBA.
1 Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned,
2 Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring;
3And laughing Joy, with wild flowers prank'd, and crown'd,
4 A wild and giddy thing,
5And Health robust, from every care unbound,
6 Come on the zephyr's wing,
7 And cheer the toiling clown.
8 Happy as holiday-enjoying face,
9 Loud tongued, and "merry as a marriage bell,"
10Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place;
11 And where the troubled dwell,
12Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares;
13 And from thy sunny spell,
14 They greet joy unawares.
15 Then with thy sultry locks all loose and rude,
16 And mantle laced with gems of garish light,
17Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude,
18 And in the world's despite,
19Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles;
20 If haply so I might
21 Win pleasure from thy smiles.
22 Me not the noise of brawling pleasure cheers,
23 In nightly revels or in city streets;
24But joys which soothe, and not distract the ears,
25 That one at leisure meets
26In the green woods, and meadows summer-shorn,
27 Or fields, where bee-fly greets
28 The ear with mellow horn.
29 The green-swathed grasshopper, on treble pipe,
30 Sings there, and dances, in mad-hearted pranks;
31There bees go courting every flower that's ripe,
32 On baulks and sunny banks;
33And droning dragon-fly, on rude bassoon,
34 Attempts to give God thanks
35 In no discordant tune.
36 The speckled thrush, by self-delight embued,
37 There sings unto himself for joy's amends,
38And drinks the honey dew of solitude.
39 There Happiness attends
40With inbred Joy until the heart o'erflow,
41 Of which the world's rude friends,
42 Nought heeding, nothing know.
43 There the gay river, laughing as it goes,
44 Plashes with easy wave its flaggy sides,
45And to the calm of heart, in calmness shows
46 What pleasure there abides,
47To trace its sedgy banks, from trouble free:
48 Spots Solitude provides
49 To muse, and happy be.
50 There ruminating 'neath some pleasant bush,
51 On sweet silk grass I stretch me at mine ease,
52Where I can pillow on the yielding rush;
53 And, acting as I please,
54Drop into pleasant dreams; or musing lie,
55 Mark the wind-shaken trees,
56 And cloud-betravelled sky.
57 There think me how some barter joy for care,
58 And waste life's summer-health in riot rude,
59Of nature, nor of nature's sweets aware.
60 When passions vain intrude,
61These, by calm musings, softened are and still;
62 And the heart's better mood
63 Feels sick of doing ill.
64 There I can live, and at my leisure seek
65 Joys far from cold restraints--not fearing pride--
66Free as the winds, that breathe upon my cheek
67 Rude health, so long denied.
68Here poor Integrity can sit at ease,
69 And list self-satisfied
70 The song of honey-bees.
71 The green lane now I traverse, where it goes
72 Nought guessing, till some sudden turn espies
73Rude batter'd finger post, that stooping shows
74 Where the snug mystery lies;
75And then a mossy spire, with ivy crown,
76 Cheers up the short surprise,
77 And shows a peeping town.
78 I see the wild flowers, in their summer morn
79 Of beauty, feeding on joy's luscious hours;
80The gay convolvulus, wreathing round the thorn,
81 Agape for honey showers;
82And slender kingcup, burnished with the dew
83 Of morning's early hours,
84 Like gold yminted new.
85 And mark by rustic bridge, o'er shallow stream,
86 Cow-tending boy, to toil unreconciled,
87Absorbed as in some vagrant summer dream;
88 Who now, in gestures wild,
89Starts dancing to his shadow on the wall,
90 Feeling self-gratified,
91 Nor fearing human thrall.
92 Or thread the sunny valley laced with streams,
93 Or forests rude, and the o'ershadow'd brims
94Of simple ponds, where idle shepherd dreams,
95 Stretching his listless limbs;
96Or trace hay-scented meadows, smooth and long,
97 Where joy's wild impulse swims
98 In one continued song.
99 I love at early morn, from new mown swath,
100 To see the startled frog his route pursue;
101To mark while, leaping o'er the dripping path,
102 His bright sides scatter dew,
103The early lark that from its bustle flies,
104 To hail his matin new;
105 And watch him to the skies.
106 To note on hedgerow baulks, in moisture sprent,
107 The jetty snail creep from the mossy thorn,
108With earnest heed, and tremulous intent,
109 Frail brother of the morn,
110That from the tiny bent's dew-misted leaves
111 Withdraws his timid horn,
112 And fearful vision weaves.
113 Or swallow heed on smoke-tanned chimney top,
114 Wont to be first unsealing Morning's eye,
115Ere yet the bee hath gleaned one wayward drop
116 Of honey on his thigh;
117To see him seek morn's airy couch to sing,
118 Until the golden sky
119 Bepaint his russet wing.
120 Or sauntering boy by tanning corn to spy,
121 With clapping noise to startle birds away,
122And hear him bawl to every passer by
123 To know the hour of day;
124While the uncradled breezes, fresh and strong,
125 With waking blossoms play,
126 And breathe Æolian song.
127 I love the south-west wind, or low or loud,
128 And not the less when sudden drops of rain
129Moisten my glowing cheek from ebon cloud,
130 Threatening soft showers again,
131That over lands new ploughed and meadow grounds,
132 Summer's sweet breath unchain,
133 And wake harmonious sounds.
134 Rich music breathes in Summer's every sound;
135 And in her harmony of varied greens,
136Woods, meadows, hedge-rows, corn-fields, all around
137 Much beauty intervenes,
138Filling with harmony the ear and eye;
139 While o'er the mingling scenes
140 Far spreads the laughing sky.
141 See, how the wind-enamoured aspen leaves
142 Turn up their silver lining to the sun!
143And hark! the rustling noise, that oft deceives,
144 And makes the sheep-boy run:
145The sound so mimics fast-approaching showers,
146 He thinks the rain's begun,
147 And hastes to sheltering bowers.
148 But now the evening curdles dank and grey,
149 Changing her watchet hue for sombre weed;
150And moping owls, to close the lids of day,
151 On drowsy wing proceed;
152While chickering crickets, tremulous and long,
153 Light's farewell inly heed,
154 And give it parting song.
155 The pranking bat its flighty circlet makes;
156 The glow-worm burnishes its lamp anew;
157O'er meadows dew-besprent, the beetle wakes
158 Inquiries ever new,
159Teazing each passing ear with murmurs vain,
160 As wanting to pursue
161 His homeward path again.
162 Hark! 'tis the melody of distant bells
163 That on the wind with pleasing hum rebounds
164By fitful starts, then musically swells
165 O'er the dim stilly grounds;
166While on the meadow-bridge the pausing boy
167 Listens the mellow sounds,
168 And hums in vacant joy.
169 Now homeward-bound, the hedger bundles round
170 His evening faggot, and with every stride
171His leathern doublet leaves a rustling sound,
172 Till silly sheep beside
173His path start tremulous, and once again
174 Look back dissatisfied,
175 And scour the dewy plain.
176 How sweet the soothing calmness that distills
177 O'er the heart's every sense its opiate dews,
178In meek-eyed moods and ever balmy trills!
179 That softens and subdues,
180With gentle Quiet's bland and sober train,
181 Which dreamy eve renews
182 In many a mellow strain!
183 I love to walk the fields, they are to me
184 A legacy no evil can destroy;
185They, like a spell, set every rapture free
186 That cheer'd me when a boy.
187Play--pastime--all Time's blotting pen conceal'd,
188 Comes like a new-born joy,
189 To greet me in the field.
190 For Nature's objects ever harmonize
191 With emulous Taste, that vulgar deed annoys;
192Which loves in pensive moods to sympathize,
193 And meet vibrating joys
194O'er Nature's pleasing things; nor slighting, deems
195 Pastimes, the Muse employs,
196 Vain and obtrusive themes.
Publication Start Year:
RPO poem Editors:
J. D. Robins