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Saturday, 20 February 2021

The Shepherd's Calendar: February, by John Clare.

 February brings the first hope of Spring to John Clare's village in his Shepherd's Calendar

Spring is an easy topic for a poet because it's a time to make even the crustiest of us dream a little of warmth and sunshine and new life. Clare does show us the obvious things - the flowers and the sunshine.

But Clare sees marvels that other poets overlook:


Odd hive bees fancying winter oer

& dreaming in their combs of spring

Creeps on the slab beside their door

& strokes its legs upon its wing

While wild ones half asleep and humming

Round snowdrop bells a feeble note

& pigions coo of summer coming

Picking their feathers on the cote


I love that observation of the bee stroking its own wings. It brings the world vividly to life. 

But then to Clare all life, however humble, is bewitching:


Neath hedge & walls that screen the wind

The gnats for play will flock together

& een poor flyes odd hopes will find 

To venture in the mocking weather

From out their hidey holes again

Wi feeble pace they often creep

Along the sun warmed window pane

Like dreaming things that walk in sleep.


Does it take a madman to take delight in such creatures?

If so, then bring it on.

Bring it on.

Word To Use Today: fly. The Old English form of this word was flēoge. It's to do with flying.


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