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Saturday 26 September 2020

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

 The Shepherd's Calendar has been such a boon and a joy this year, when so many of us have been cooped up fretfully at home. It's been a lesson in the wonder of local treasures.

Clare's editor may have felt the same need for tranquility, for he cut a lot of the beginning of September, perhaps because it's about a whole variety of dishonest acts. My guess is that it didn't fit in with the idea of the harmonious country village he thought was going to be popular with the reading public.

But there are thieves everywhere. 

'Old Goody'...

...from young chickens drives away

The circling kite that round them flies

Waiting the chance to steal the prize

Hogs try through gates the street to gain

& steal into the fields of grain

From night's full prison comes the duck

Waddling eager through the muck

Squeezing through the orchard pales

Where morning's bounty rarely fails

Eager gobbling as they pass

Dewworms through the padded grass

Where blushing apples round and red

Load down the boughs and pat the head

Of longing maid that hither goes

To hang on lines the drying clothes

Who views them oft with tempted eye

& steals one as she passes bye.

What a fool Clare's editor was to cut those lines. Why, it describes almost literally a paradise.

Or a new Garden of Eden, anyway.

Garden of Eden by Paul de Vos and Jan Wildens

I mean, what could be more thought-provoking on the subject of religious morality than that?

Oh. I see.

Ah well.

Word To Use Today: dewworm. There aren't very many English words with a double w, so we must value carefully all we have. A dewworm is a common earthworm: so much lovelier a name, isn't it, than earthworm, and for such important and useful little animals, too.

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