Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Shepherd's Calendar - August

Here are more excerpts from John Clare's poem, it is wonderfully descriptive of the heat and backbreaking toil of the harvest which involved all the village - young and old, male and female.

Harvest approaches with its bustling day
The wheat tans brown and barley bleaches grey
In yellow garb the oat land intervenes
And tawney glooms the valley thronged with beans
Silent the village grows, wood wandering dreams
Seem not so lovely as its quiet seems
Doors are shut up as on a winters day
And not a child about them lies at play
The dust that winnows neath the breezes feet
Is all that stirs about the silent street
Fancy might think that desert spreading fear
Had whisperd terrors into quiets ear
Or plundering armys past the place had come
And drove the lost inhabitants from home
The fields now claim them where a motley crew
Of old and young their daily tasks pursue

When the sun stoops to meet the western sky
And noons hot hours have wanderd weary bye
They seek an awthorn bush or willow tree
Or stouk or shock where coolest shadows be
Where baskets heapd and unbroachd bottles lye
Which dogs in absence watchd with wary eye
To catch their breath awhile and share the boon
Which beavering time alows their toil at noon
All gathering sit on stubbs or sheaves the hour
Where scarlet poppys linger still in flower
Stript in his shirt the hot swain drops adown
And close beside him in her unpind gown

Next to her favoured swain the maiden steals
Blushing at kindness which her love reveals
Who makes a seat for her of things around
And drops beside her on the naked ground
Wearied wi brambles catching at her gown
And pulling nutts from branches pulld adown
By friendly swain the maid Wi heaving breast
Upon her lovers shoulder leans at rest
Then from its cool retreat the beer they bring
And hand the stout hooped bottle round the ring

The ruddy child nursed in the lap of care
In toils rude ways to do its little share
Beside its mother poddles oer the land
Sun burnt and stooping with a weary hand
Picking its tiney glean of corn or wheat
While crackling stubbles wound its legs and feet
Full glad it often is to sit awhile
Upon a smooth green baulk to ease its toil
And feign would spend an idle hour to play
With insects strangers to the moiling day
Creeping about each rush and grassy stem
And often wishes it was one of them
In weariness of heart that it might lye
Hid in the grass from the days burning eye
That raises tender blisters on his skin
Thro holes or openings that have lost a pin
Free from the crackling stubs to toil and glean
And smiles to think how happy it had been
Whilst its expecting mother stops to tye
Her handful up and waiting his supply
Misses the resting younker from her side
And shouts of rods and morts of threats beside
Pointing to the grey willows while she tells
His fears shall fetch one if he still rebells
Picturing harsh truths in its unpracticed eye
How they who idle in the harvest lye
Shall well deserving in the winter pine
Or hunt the hedges with the birds and swine

The paintings are
1.Harvest Time, Lambourne, Berks by Henry H Parker
2.Harvest Rest by George Cole
3.Harvest by Robert Gavin


Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely, lovely poem. It encapsulates harvest time so completely, but also tells of how hard life must have been then - when even a small child had to glean beside the mother . . .

Anonymous said...

Love the paintings Rowan and the John Clare's poem, heaving breast and all that.{:)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I've always loved this cycle of poems by Clare, the way he so perfectly catches the mood and atmosphere of the pastoral life.

Really like the paintings, too—especially the George Cole.

Wanda..... said...

The poem left me with a melacholy feeling...the peaceful reading of their backbreaking toil made me rethink my own day, as I was dreading the mowing of some grass and garden work. I now do it gladly.

I've so enjoyed all the excerpts from John Clare's poem, that you have posted, Rowan!

Granny Sue said...

Lovely, Rowan. Don't the pictures make it look idyllic, though? And anyone who has worked in those fields know it's not quite so pretty--and neither are they at the end of the day. But that's the artist's job, to see the beauty in the everyday and remove the grit from our eyes so we can see it too.

Piecefulafternoon said...

I do so love the poems of the seasons. The paintings are wonderful, I'm very drawn to that style. Thank you.

Mac n' Janet said...

Pictures and poem well matched, loved the painting of the child. I'm longing for Autumn.

Derrick said...

Such a romantic notion we often have about the 'olden days', Rowan?! Sitting in a hay field enjoying the sunshine only comes after back breaking work!

George said...

Once again, Rowan, I have really enjoyed these lines by John Clare from "The Shepherds Calendar," and I love the paintings that you have paired so well with the various sections of the poem. I trust there will be more as the seasons change.

Von said...

Beautiful post and as you know I do love that word "poddle"

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have always love John Clare. This is beautiful.
Although, around here this month, the maiden is probably not blushing, but turning scarlet in the heat!

Tramp said...

Wonderful lines of life lived so close to nature:
They so vividly bring back boyhood memories of helping with straw bales at harvest. At the same time it reminds us of the fragility of it all, something so easy to forget in modern lifestyle which ignores nature.
At the moment the wheatfields here are so dark with dampness after nearly a week of heavy rain which has spiralled over central Europe instead of moving towards Russia to quench the fires.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful paintings and poem.
I love the month of August,my birthmonth ; )
Thank you so much for visiting my blog and saying hi to Pixie !!!