This is, sadly, the last of The Word Den's regular visits to The Shepherd's Calendar. These posts weren't originally intended as a pandemic special; the idea for the series was sparked by my getting John Clare's book as a birthday present, which was in turn sparked by my discovering that I have family links to the Clares of Helpston in Lincolnshire (and also that some members of the family actually used to live in John Clare's cottage).
But, serendipitously, Clare's verse couldn't have given us a better example of how to be happy at home.
Clare is overbrimming with the delights of May, and it's hard to pick just one passage to quote here. There's a whole catalogue of flowers, for instance, and the same of birds, each characterised carefully.
Perhaps, as this is The Word Den, we should leave Clare among his happy memories of childhood pleasures with his account of the writing lark.
The yellowhammer builds his nest
By banks where sun beams earliest rest
That dries the dew from off the grass
Shading it from all that pass
Save the rude boy wi ferret gaze
He finds its penciled eggs agen
All streaked wi lines as if a pen
By natures freakish hand was took
To scrawl them over like a book
& from these many mozzling marks
The schoolboy names them "writing larks"
Word To Use Today: mozzling. To mozzle is Australian slang for to hamper or impede. My copy of the OED doesn't record it as an English word, but it makes sense in this context (as camouflage to fool predators) and my guess is that it came to Australia from Helpston, or somewhere close by.