John Clare day

Posted in: Comment

In Monday's Guardian, George Monbiot suggested that today ought to be John Clare Day (his birth date in 1793).  Well, fine by me, and I'd join any queue to be the first to agree with this.  Monbiot's argument is that John Clare was the poet of the environmental crisis – 200 years ago – who showed how the era of greed began with the enclosure of the land.

I read Clare because of his understanding of the natural world and human interaction with it, and because his poetry describes a past world whose echoes you can still feel all around you – if you look –  despite enclosures, loss of species (and rural jobs), neo-liberalism (and other evils).

This is JC's Emmonsails Heath in Winter where a bumbarrel is a long-tailed tit.

I love to see the old heath’s withered brake

Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling,

While the old heron from the lonely lake

Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wing,

And oddling crow in idle motions swing

On the half rotten ash tree’s topmost twig,

Beside whose trunk the gipsy makes his bed.

Up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig

Where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread,

The fieldfares chatter in the whistling thorn

And for the awe round fields and closen rove,

And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove

Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain

And hang on little twigs and start again.

Posted in: Comment


  • (we won't publish this)

Write a response