Thursday, March 1, 2018


Most of us live insulated from the natural world, and it's jolly comfortable to do so. But occasionally I think we all feel that longing to get in touch with the world as it is. I'm not at all sure that reading about such experiences is any kind of replacement for the real thing, but sometimes reading John Clare can seem to get you very close indeed. Today I treated myself to March from The Shepherd's Calendar and was very glad I did so.

The early lines about the sounds of the floods embody the energy of a landscape that's alive in every detail: ...while often at his cottage door / The shepherd stands to hear the distant roar / Loosd from the rushing mills and river locks / Wi thundering sound and over powering shocks / And headlong hurry thro the meadow brigs / Brushing the leaning sallows fingering twigs / In feathery foam and eddy hissing chase / Rolling a storm overtaken travellers pace / From bank to bank along the meadow leas / Spreading and shining like to little seas 

As so often in Clare, the lack of conventional punctuation frees the verse in a way that seems to both echo the freedom of the natural world and suggest its challenges. This is not a pleasantly cultivated controlled landscape; this is nature in the roar raw.

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