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Editor's Selection of Poems
July

by John Clare

Daughter of pastoral smells and sights
And sultry days and dewy nights
July resumes her yearly place
Wi her milking maiden face
Ruddy and tand yet sweet to view
When everywhere's a vale of dew
And raps it round her looks that smiles
A lovly rest to daily toils
Wi last months closing scenes and dins
Her sultry beaming birth begins

Hay makers still in grounds appear 
And some are thinning nearly clear
Save oddly lingering shocks about
Which the tithman counteth out
Sticking their green boughs where they go
The parsons yearly claims to know
Which farmers view wi grudging eye
And grumbling drive their waggons bye
In hedge bound close and meadow plains
Stript groups of busy bustling swains
From all her hants wi noises rude
Drives to the wood lands solitude
That seeks a spot unmarkd wi paths
Far from the close and meadow swaths
Wi smutty song and story gay
They cart the witherd smelling hay
Boys loading on the waggon stand
And men below wi sturdy hand
Heave up the shocks on lathy prong
While horse boys lead the team along
And maidens drag the rake behind
Wi light dress shaping to the wind
And trembling locks of curly hair
And snow white bosoms nearly bare
That charms ones sight amid the hay
Like lingering blossoms of the may
From clowns rude jokes they often turn
And oft their cheeks wi blushes burn
From talk which to escape a sneer
They oft affect as not to hear
Some in the nooks about the ground
Pile up the stacks swelld bellying round
The milking cattles winter fare
That in the snow are fodderd there
Warm spots wi black thorn thickets lind
And trees to brake the northern wind
While masters oft the sultry hours
Will urge their speed and talk of showers
When boy from home trotts to the stack
Wi dinner upon dobbins back
And bottles to the saddle tyd
Or ballancd upon either side
A horse thats past his toiling day
Yet still a favorite in his way
That trotts on errands up and down
The fields and too and fro from town
Long ere his presence comes in sight
Boys listen wi heart felt delight
And know his footsteps down the road
Hastening wi the dinner load
Then they seek in close or meadows
High hedgerows wi grey willow shadows
To hide beneath from sultry noon
And rest them at their dinner boon
Where helping shepherd for the lass
Will seek a hillock on the grass
The thickset hedge or stack beside
Where teazing pismires ne'er abide
And when tis found down drops the maid
Proud wi the kind attention paid
And still the swain wi notice due
Waits on her all the dinner through
And fills her horn which she tho dry
In shoyness often pushes bye
While he will urge wi many a smile
It as a strength to help her toil
And in her hand will oft contrive
From out his pocket pulld to slive
Stole fruit when no one turns his eve
To wet her mouth when shes adry
Offerd when she refuses ale
Noons sultry labour to regale
Teazd wi the countless multitude
Of flyes that every where intrude
While boys wi boughs will often try
To beat them from them as they lye
Who find their labour all in vain
And soon as scard they swarm again
Thus while each swain and boy and lass
Sit at their dinner on the grass
The teams wi gears thrown on their backs
Stand pulling at the shocks or racks
Switching their tails and turning round
To knap the gadflys teazing wound
While dob that brought the dinners load
Too tricky to be turnd abroad
Needing the scuttle shook wi grain
To coax him to be caught again
Is to a tree at tether tyd
Ready for boy to mount and ride
Nipping the grass about his pound
And stamping battering hooves around
Soon as each ground is clear of hay
The shepherd whoops his flocks away
From fallow fields to plentys scenes
Shining as smooth as bowling greens
But scard wi clipping tides alarms
They bleat about the close in swarms
And hide neath hedges in the cool
Still panting tho wi out their whool
Markd wi the tard brands lasting dye
And make a restless hue and cry
Answering the lambs that call again
And for their old dams seek in vain
Running mid the stranger throng
And ever meeting wi the wrong
Fiegn wi some old yoe to abide
Who smells and tosses them aside
And some as if they know its face
Will meet a lamb wi mended pace
But proving hopes indulgd in vain
They turn around and blair again
Till weand from memory half forgot
They spread and feed and notice not
Save now and then to lambs shrill crys
Odd yoes in hoarser tone replys
Still may be seen the mowing swain
On balks between the fields of grain
Who often stops his thirst to ease
To pick the juicy pods of pease
And oft as chances bring to pass 
Stoops oer his scythe stuck in the grass
To seek the brimming honey comb
Which bees so long were toiling home
And rifld from so many flowers
And carried thro so many hours
He tears their small hives mossy ball
Where the brown labourers hurded all
Who gather homward one by one
And see their nest and honey gone
Humming around his rushing toil
Their mellancholly wrongs awhile
Then oer the sweltering swaths they stray
And hum disconsolate away
And oft neath hedges cooler screen
Where meadow sorrel lingers green
Calld 'sour grass' by the knowing clown
The mower gladly chews it down
And slakes his thirst the best he may
When singing brooks are far away
And his hoopd bottle woeful tale
Is emptied of its cheering ale
That lulld him in unconsious sleep
At dinners hour beneath a heap
Of grass or bush or edding shock
Till startld by the country clock
That told the hours his toil had lost
Who coud but spare an hour at most
And wearing past the setting sun
He stays to get his labour done
The gipsey down the meadow brook
Wi long pole and reaping hook
Tyd at its end amid the streams
That glitters wi the hot sunbeams
Reachs and cuts the bulrush down
And hawks them round each neighboring town
Packd at his back or tyd in loads
On asses down the dusty roads
He jogs and shouts from door to door
His well known note of calling oer
Offering to huswives cheap repairs
Mending their broken bottomd chairs
Wi step half walk half dance, and eye
Ready to smile on passers bye
Wi load well suiting weather warm
Tuckd carlessly beneath his arm
Or peeping coat and side between
In woolen bag of faded green
Half conseald and half displayd
A purpose tell tale to his trade
The gipsey fiddler jogs away
To village feast and holiday
Scraping in public house to trye
What beer his music will supply
From clowns who happy wi the din
Dance their hand naild hilos thin
Along the roads in passing crowds
Followd by dust like smoaking clouds
Scotch droves of beast a little breed
In swelterd weary mood proceed
A patient race from scottish hills
To fatten by our pasture rills
Lean wi the wants of mountain soil
But short and stout for travels toil
Wi cockd up horns and curling crown
And dewlap bosom hanging down
Followd by slowly pacing swains
Wild to our rushy flats and plains
At whom the shepherds dog will rise
And shake himself and in supprise
Draw back and waffle in affright
Barking the traveller out of sight
And mowers oer their scythes will bear
Upon their uncooth dress to stare
And shepherds as they trample bye
Leaves oer their hooks a wondering eye
To witness men so oddly clad
In petticoats of banded plad
Wi blankets oer their shoulders slung
To camp at night the fields among
When they for rest on commons stop
And blue cap like a stocking top
Cockt oer their faces summer brown
Wi scarlet tazzeles on the crown
Rude patterns of the thistle flower
Untrickd and open to the shower
And honest faces fresh and free
That breath of mountain liberty
The pindar on the sabbath day
Soon as the darkness waxes grey
Before one sun beam oer the ground
Spindles its light and shadow round
Goes round the fields at early morn
To see what stock are in the corn
To see what chances sheep may win
Thro gaps the gipsey pilfers thin
Or if theyve forcd a restless way
By rubbing at a loosend tray
Or nuzling colt that trys to catch
A gate at night left off the latch
By traveller seeking home in haste
Or the clown by fareys chas'd
That listning while he makes a stand
Opens each gate wi fearful hand
And dreads a minute to remain
To put it on the latch again
And cows who often wi their horns
Toss from the gaps the stuffing thorns
These like a fox upon the watch
He in the morning trycs to catch
And drives them to the pound for pay
Carless about the sabbath day
Soon as the morning wakens red
The shepherd startles from his bed
And rocks afield his moving pace
While folded sheep will know his face
Rising as he appears in sight
To shake their coats as in delight
His shadow stalking stride for stride
Stretches a jiant by his side
Long as a tree without a top
And oft it urges him to stop
Both in his journey and his song
And wonders why it seems so long
And bye and bye as morning dies
Shrinks to an unbrichd boy in size
Then as the evening gathers blue
Grows to a jiants length anew
Puzzld the more he stops to pause
His wisdom vainly seeks the cause
Again his journey he pursues
Lengthening his track along the dews
And his dog that turnd to pick
From his sides the sucking tick
Insects that on cattle creep
And bites the labourer laid asleep
Pricks up his ears to see twas gone
Ana shakes his hide and hastens on
And the while the shepherd stayd
Trailing a track the hare had made
Bolts thro the creeping hedge again
And hurring follows wi the swain
The singing shouting herding boys
Follows again their wild employs
And ere the sun puts half his head
From out his crimson pillowd bed
And bawls behind his cows again
That one by one lobs down the lane
Wi wild weeds in his hat anew
The summer sorts of every hue
And twigs of leaves that please his eye
To his old haunts he hallows bye 
Wi dog that loiters bv his side
Or trotts before wi nimble stridc
That waits till bid to bark and run
And panteth from the dreaded sun
And oft amid the sunny day
Will join a partner in his play
And in his antic tricks and glee
Will prove as fond of sport as he
And by the flag pool summer warm
He'll watch the motions of his arm
That holds a stick or stone to throw
In the sun gilded flood below
And head oer ears he danses in
Nor fears to wet his curly skin
The boys field cudgel to restore
And brings it in his mouth ashore
And eager as for crust or bone
He'll run to catch the pelted stone
Till wearied out he shakes his hide
And drops his tail and sneaks aside
Unheeding whistles shouts and calls
To take a rest where thickly falls
The rush clumps shadows there he lyes
Licking his skin and catching flyes
Or picking tween his stretching feet
The bone he had not time to eat
Before when wi the teazing boy
He was so throngd wi plays employ
Noon gathers wi its blistering breath
Around and day dyes still as death
The breeze is stopt the lazy bough
Hath not a leaf that dances now
The totter grass upon the hill
And spiders threads is hanging still
The feathers dropt from morehens wings
Upon the waters surface clings
As stedfast and as heavy seem
As stones beneath them in the stream
Hawkweed and groundsels fairey downs
Unruffld keep their seeding crowns
And in the oven heated air
Not one light thing is floating there
Save that to the earnest eye
The restless heat swims twittering bye
The swine run restless down the street
Anxious some pond or ditch to meet
From days hot swoonings to retire
Wallowing in the weeds and mire
The linnets seek the twiggs that lye
Close to the brook and brig stones drye
At top and sit and dip their bills
Till they have drunk their little fills
Then flurt their wings and wet their feathers
To cool them in the blazing weathers
Dashing the water oer their heads
Then high them to some cooling sheds
Where dark wood glooms about the plain
To pick their feathers smooth again
The young quick's branches seem as dead
And scorch from yellow into red
Ere autumn hath its pencil taen
Their shades in different hues to stain
Following behind the crawling ploughs
Whiping oft their sweating brows
The boys lead horses yokd in pairs
To jumping harrows linkd that tears
And teazes the hard clods to dust
Placing for showers in hopes their trust
The farmer follows sprinkling round
Wi turnip seed the panting ground
Providing food for beast and sheep
When winters snows are falling deep
Oft proving hopes and wishes vain
While clouds disperse that promisd rain
When soon as ere the turnip creeps
From out the crust burnt soil and peeps
Upon the farmers watching eye
Tis eaten by the jumping flye
And eager neath the midday sun
Soon as each plough teams toil is done
Scarse waiting till the gears are taen
From off their backs by boy and swain
From hayfilld racks they turn away
Nor in the stable care to stay
Hurr[y]ing to the trough to drink
Or from the yard ponds muddy brink
Rush in and wi long winded soak
Drink till theyre almost fit to choak
And from the horsbees teazing din
Thrust deep their burning noses in
Almost above their greedy eyes
To cool their mouths and shun the flyes
Deaf to the noise the geese will make
That grudge the worthy share they take
Boys now neath green lanes meeting bough
Each noons half holiday from plough
Take out their hungry teams till night
That nipp the grass wi eager bite
Wi long tails switching never still
They lounge neath trees when eat their fill
And stamp and switch till closing day
Brushing the teazing flyes away
Endless labour all in vain
That start in crowds to turn again
When the sun is sinking down
And dyes more deep the shadows brown
And gradual into slumber glooms
How sweet the village evening comes
To weary hinds from toil releasd
And panting sheep and torturd beast
The shepherd long wi heat opprest
Betakes him to his cottage rest
And his tird dog that plods along
Wi panting breath and lolling tongue
Runs eager as the brook appears
And dashes in head over ears
Startling reed sparrow broods to fiye
That in the reed woods slumberd nigh
And water rotts in haste to hide
Nibbling the sedges close beside
Lapping while he floats about
To quench his thirst then drabbles out
And shakes his coat and like the swain
Is happy night is come again

The beast that to the pond did creep
And rushd in water belly deep
The gad flyes threatning hums to shun
And horse bee darting in the sun
Lashing their tails the while they stood
And sprinkling thick their sides wi mud
Snuff the cool air now day is gone
And linger slow and idly on
To the pebbly fore to drink
And drop and rest upon its brink
Ruminating on their beds
Calm as the sky above their heads
The horse whose mouth is seldom still
Is up and cropping at his will
The moisting grass unteazd and free
In summer eves serenity
Uncheckt by flyes he grazes on
Right happy that the day is gone
Ne'er leaving off to turn around
His stooping head to knap the wound
And tail that switchd his sides all day
Is quiet now the suns away
The cowboys as their herd plod on
Before them homward one by one
Grows happy as their toil grows short
And full of fancys restless sport
Oft starts along wi sinking day
Acting proud their soldier play
Wi peeld bark sash around each waist
And rush caps oer each beaver placd
Stuck wi a headaches red cockade
And wooden swords and sticks displayd
For flags-thus march the evening troop
While soon one strikes a whistle up
And others wi their dinner tins
The evenings falling quiet dins
Patting wi hollow sounding tums
And imitating pipes and drums
Calling their cows that plod before
Their army marching from the moor
And thus they act till met the town
Carless of laughs from passing clown
Even their dogs too tird for play
Loiter on their evening way
Oft rolling on the damping grass
Or stopping wi the milking lass
Waiting a chance the ways conseal
A mouth full from her pails to steal
Dropping down to pick a bone
The hedger from his wallets thrown
Or found upon some greensward platt
Where hayfolks at their dinner sat
Sweet the cows breath down the lane
Steaming the fragrance of the plain
As home they rock and bawling wait
Till boys run to unloose the gate
And from their milksheds all adry
Turn to the pump wi anxious eye
Where shoud the maids wi boys repair
To fill the dashing bucket there
They hurry spite of threatning clown
And kick the milkers bucket down
And horses oft wi eager stoop
Will bend adown to steal a sup
Watching a moments chance to win
And dip their eager noses in
As by they pass or set it down
To rest or chatter to a clown
And knats wi their small slender noise
Bother too the troubld boys
And teaze the cows that while she chides
Will kick and turn to lick their sides
And like so many hanting sprites
Will bite and weal the maid anights
Who dreams of love and sleeps so sound
As ne'er to feel each little wound
Till waken by the morning sun
She wonders at the injury done
Thinking in fears simplicity
That faireys dreaded mistery
On her white bosom in the dark
Had been and left each blisterd mark
The fox begins his stunt odd bark
Down in its dew bed drops the lark
And on the heath amid the gorse
The night hawk stints the feeding horse
That pricks his ear wi startling eye
And snorts to hear its trembling crye
The owlet leaves his ivy tree
Into its hive slow sails the bee
The mower seeks his cloaths and hides
His scythe home bent wi weary strides
And oer his shoulder swings his bag
Bearing in hand his empty cag
Hay makers on their homward way
Into the fields will often stray
Among the grain when no one sees
Nestle and fill their laps wi peas
Sheep scard wi tweenlight doubting eye
Leap the path and canter bye
Nipping wi moment stoops the plain
And turning quick to gaze again
Till silence upon eve awaits
And milkmaids cease to clap the gates
And homward to the town are gone
Wi whispering sweethearts chatting on
And shepherds homward tracks are past
And dogs rude barks are still at last
Then down they drop as suits their wills
Or nips the thyme on pismire hills
Where nought is seen but timid hares
That nights sweet welcome gladly shares
And shadows stooping as they stoop
Beside them when the moon gets up
Reviving wi the ruddy moon
The nightingale resumes his tune
What time the horsboy drives away
His loose teams from the toils of day
To crop the closes dewy blade
Where the hay stacks fencd and made
Or on the commons bushy plain
To rest till the sun comes again
Whistling and bawling loud and long
The burthen of some drawling song
That grows more loud as eve grows late
Yet when he opes the clapping gate
He cant help turning in his joys
To look if his fear damping noise
Has raisd a mischief in the wind
And wakd a ghost to stalk behind
And when hes turnd them safe aground
And hookd the chain the gate around
Wi quicker speed he homward sings
And leaves them in the mushroom rings
Wi the dewdrunk dancing elves
To eat or rest as suits themselves
And as he hastes from labour done
An owlets whoop een makes him run
And bats shill flickerings bobbing near
Turns his heart blood cold wi fear
And when at home wi partner ralph
He hugs himself to think hes safe
And tells his tale while others smile
Of all he thought and feard the while
The black house bee hath ceasd to sing
And white nosd one wi out a sting
That boys will catch devoid of dread
Are in their little holes abed
And martins neath the mossey eves
Oft startld at the sparrow thieves
That in their house will often peep
Breaking their little weary sleep
And oft succeed when left alone
In making their clay huts their own
Where the cock sparrow on the scout
Watches and keeps the owner out
The geese have left the home close moats
And at the yard gate clean their coats
Or neath their feathers tuck their heads
Asleep till driven to their sheds
The pigeon droves in whisking flight
Hurrying to their coats ere night
In coveys round the village meet
And in the dove coat holes retreat
Nor more about the wheaten grounds
The bird boys bell and clapper sounds
Retiring wi the setting sun
His toil and shout and song is done
The shrill bat wi its flitting mate
Starts thro the church vaults iron grate
Deaths daily visitors and all
He meets save slanting suns that fall
At eve as if they lovd to shed
Their daily memory oer the dead
Hodge neath the climbing elms that drop
Their branches oer a dove coat top
Hath milkd his cows and taken in
On yokes the reeking pales or tin
And been across the straw to chain
The hen roost wicket safe again
And done his yard rounds hunting eggs
And taen his hat from off the peggs
To scamper to the circling cross
To have a game at pitch and toss
And day boy hath his supper got
Of milk before twas hardly hot
Eager from toil to get away
And join the boys at taw to play
Neath black smiths cinder litterd shed
Till the hour to go to bed
Old gossips on the greensward bench
Sit where the hombound milking wench
Will set her buckets down to rest
And be awhile their evening guest
To whom their box is held while she
Takes the smallest nips that be
That soon as snift begins to teaze
And makes her turn away to sneeze
While old dames say the sign is plain
That she will dream about her swain
And toss the cloaths from off her bed
And cautions her of roguish ned
Holding their hands agen their hips
To laugh as up she starts and trip
In quickend speed along the town 
Bidding good night to passing clown

From the black smiths shop the swain
Jogs wi ploughshares laid again
And drops them by the stable shed
Where gears on pegs hang over head
Ready for driving boys to take
On fore horse when their toils awake
The kitchen wench wi face red hot
As blazing fire neath supper pot
Hath cleand her pails and pansions all
And set them leaning by the wall
And twirld her whool mop clean again
And hung it on the pales to drain

Now by the maids requesting smile
The shepherd mounts the wood stack pile
Reard high against the orchard pales
And cause of thorns she oft bewails
Prickd hands and holes in sunday gown
He throws the smoothest faggot down
And hawls it in at her desire
Ready for the kitching fire

Beneath the elderns village shade
Oer her well curb leans the maid
To draw the brimming bucket up
While passing boy to beg a sup
Will stop his roll or rocking cart
And the maidens gentle heart
Gives ready leave-the eager clown
Throws off his hat and stoops adown
Soaking his fill then hastens on
To catch his team already gone
Eager from toil to get release
And in the hay field feed at peace

The weary thresher leaves his barn
And emptys from his shoes the corn
That gatherd in them thro the day
And homward bends his weary way
The gardener he is sprinkling showers
From watering pans on drooping flowers
And set away his hoe and spade
While goody neath the cottage shade
Sits wi a baskett tween her knees
Ready for supper shelling peas
And cobler chatting in the town
Hath put his window shutter down
And the knowing parish clerk
Feign to do his jobs ere dark
ilath timd the church clock to the sun
And wound it up for night and done
And turud the hugh kev in the door
Chatting his evening story oer
Up the street the servant maid
Runs wi her errands long delayd
And ere the door she enters in
She stops to right a loosend pin
And smooth wi hasty fingers down
The crumpling creases in her gown
Which Rogers oggles rudly made
For may games forfeit never paid
And seizd a kiss against her will
While playing quoits upon the hill
Wi other shepherds laughing nigh
That made her shoy and hurry bye
The blacksmiths gangling toil is oer
And shut his hot shops branded door
Folding up his arms to start
And take at ease his evening quart
And farmer giles his business done
Wi face a very setting sun
Jogging home on dobbins back
From helping at the clover stack
The horse knows well nor trys to pass
The door where for his custom glass
He nightly from the saddle jumps
To slake his thirst or cheer the dumps
Leaving old dob his breath to catch
Wi bridle hanging at the latch
The shepherd too will often spare
A sixpence to be merry there
While the dog that trackd his feet
Adown the dusty printed street
Lies as one weary loath to roam
Agen the door to wait him home
While the taylors long day thirst
Is still unquenchd tho fit to burst
Whose been at truants merry play
From sheers and bodkin all the day
Still soaks the tankard reeling ripe
And scarce can stoop to light his pipe
The labourer sitting by his door
Happy that the day is oer
Is stooping downwards to unloose
His leathern baffles or his shoes
Making ready for his rest
Quickly to be the pillows guest
While on mothers lap wi in
The childern each their prayers begin
That taen from play are loath to go
And looking round repeating slow
Each prayer they stammer in delay
To gain from bed a longer stay
Goody hath set her spinning bye
Deafend by her chattering pye
That calls her up wi hungry rage
To put his supper in the cage
That done she sought a neighbours door
A minutes time to gossip oer
And neath her apron now tis night
Huddles for home, her candle light
Hid from the wind-to burn an hour
As clouds wi threatend thunder lower
The mastiff from his kennel free
Is now unchaind at liberty
In readiness to put to rout
The thieves that night may bring about
Thus evening deepning to a close
Leaves toil and nature to repose
Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works