Summer Images

Original Text: 
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
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.281.