This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Saturday Rave: The Shepherd's Calendar by John Clare. May

Utter and complete joy and bliss:

Come queen of months in company
Wi all thy merry minstrelsy
The restless cuckoo absent long
And twittering swallows chimney song
And hedge row crickets notes that run
From every bank that fronts the sun
And swathy bees about the grass
That stops wi every bloom they pass
And every minute every hour
Keep teazing weeds that wear a flower

Just two points for reflection: first, John Clare started work in the fields at the age of seven (and yet look, just look, at the treasures he found in his little, harsh world); second, imagine if John Clare given that piece of verse (it's the beginning of a much longer poem) to a teacher. How many red measle-like corrections there would have been all over it! Poor John Clare was really rather bad at writing...

...wasn't he?

He should have spent his childhood in the classroom learning a bit of standard grammar instead of wasting it in:

...childhoods humming joys
For there is music in the noise
The village childern mad for sport
In school times leisure ever short
That crick and catch the bouncing ball
And run along the church yard wall
Capt wi rude figured slabs whose claims
In times bad memory hath no names

In these times, when so many children are deprived of schooling, what will come of it?

Well...let's hope it's a few more works of wayward genius and joy, shall we?

Word To Use Today: minstrelsy. This word comes from the French menestral, from the Latin ministeriālis, which means, rather sadly, an official. It's basically the same word as minister, which originally, and this is one to remember, meant servant.

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