Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A walk with John Clare

Tea and porridge in bed this morning, and Lorraine and I had breakfast together.

The last day of the month, and I wanted to get a couple of poetry manuscripts sent off in time for the submission windows, just to play the game. Spent the morning doing this, and feeling I wasn't progressing the novel, the end is in sight, but there is still lots to be done. Meanwhile Richard in Guernsey is getting together another book's worth of poems.

Off too see Helen this afternoon to work on the Centaur opera, walked over to her home in Hove, and arrived on time. She wasn't in. Phoned her and found I'd got the wrong day. Later Helen texted me to say she had double booked tomorrow anyway, and what are we like. At least it was a walk, and I worked better for it once home.

While walking I listened to a podcast about the 'peasant poet' John Clare, who although I did once read some of his work am not as familiar with it as perhaps I should be. Interesting to compare, as the did in the In our time podcast, the difference between Keats's mighty Ode to a Nightingale to The Nightingale's Nest, by Clare. Keats's one is unseen, and symbolic, while Clare's is the product of real observation, as in this excerpt.

Just where that old-man’s-beard all wildly trails
Rude arbours o’er the road, and stops the way - 
And where that child its blue-bell flowers hath got, 
Laughing and creeping through the mossy rails -
There have I hunted like a very boy,
Creeping on hands and knees through matted thorn
To find her nest, and see her feed her young.
And vainly did I many hours employ :
All seemed as hidden as a thought unborn.
And where those crimping fern-leaves ramp among 
The hazel’s under boughs, I’ve nestled down,
And watched her while she sung ; and her renown
Hath made me marvel that so famed a bird
Should have no better dress than russet brown.

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