My inspirations (in no particular order) number 31

NPG 1469; John Clare by William Hilton
by William Hilton, oil on canvas, 1820

John Clare

13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864

John Clare is a inspiration because of his poetry. I didn’t know much about his background or life, the first time that I read one of his poems, but there was something incredible about the way that he phrased things. I’m more of a book reader, but his work is a large part of the reason why I started attending a weekly poetry reading group.

There’s something haunting, and beautiful which runs through all of his poetry. It wasn’t until later that I discovered just how much he suffered with mental illnesses, entering several different ayslums during the course of his life. It makes me admire him more, that he was able to produce poetry like this, despite such serious issues.

IN HILLY-WOOD

How sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs,
Upon an ashen stoven pillowing me;
Faintly are heard the ploughmen at their ploughs,
But not an eye can find its way to see.
The sunbeams scarce molest me with a smile,
So thick the leafy armies gather round;
And where they do, the breeze blows cool the while,
Their leafy shadows dancing on the ground.
Full many a flower, too, wishing to be seen,
Perks up its head the hiding grass between.-
In mid-wood silence, thus, how sweet to be;
Where all the noises, that on peace intrude,
Come from the chittering cricket, bird, and bee,
Whose songs have charms to sweeten solitude.

EVENING

‘Tis evening; the black snail has got on his track,
And gone to its nest is the wren,
And the packman snail, too, with his home on his back,
Clings to the bowed bents like a wen.

The shepherd has made a rude mark with his foot
Where his shadow reached when he first came,
And it just touched the tree where his secret love cut
Two letters that stand for love’s name.

The evening comes in with the wishes of love,
And the shepherd he looks on the flowers,
And thinks who would praise the soft song of the dove,
And meet joy in these dew-falling hours.

For Nature is love, and finds haunts for true love,
Where nothing can hear or intrude;
It hides from the eagle and joins with the dove,
In beautiful green solitude.

First Love

I ne’er was struck before that hour
   With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
   And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
   My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
   My life and all seemed turned to clay.
And then my blood rushed to my face
   And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
   Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
   Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string,
   And blood burnt round my heart.
Are flowers the winter’s choice?
   Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
   Not love’s appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
   As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
   And can return no more.
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