I fell off the Poetry Friday bandwagon with a loud thump at the beginning of the Summer, when it seemed as if we were always gone, or getting ready to go somewhere, on Fridays (and sometimes Thursdays). But with school starting next week, I’m ready to haul myself back up; in fact, that’s me above, at left in the pointy hat.
After I’d decided that this would be the week of the big climb, I had a note from Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti letting me know that the Poetry Foundation article she had mentioned earlier this year is now up at the PF website: “Home Appreciation”, subtitled, “Homeschoolers are turning a million kids on to poetry — through fun, not homework. Here’s how you can do it too.” I’m tickled to be mentioned in Susan’s article, along with other home schooling mums Karen Edmisten and Jenny at Little Acorns Treehouse, delightfully encouraging librarian Adrienne Furness at Homeschooling and Libraries, and Julie Bogart of Brave Writer. Thanks so much, Susan. By the way, don’t miss Susan’s Poetry Friday article at the Poetry Foundation, if you haven’t read it yet.
If you’ve found your way here from the PF article, welcome to Farm School. The Poetry & Broccoli post mentioned by Susan is here. More Farm School poetry posts are here, and can also be found if you scroll all the way to top of this page (well past the bandwagon) and to the right and click on the tab that says “Poetry”. You can also try the similarly titled “Poetry” WordPress tag, which has everything here I’ve slapped with the tag, including all of the Farm School Poetry Friday posts.
I’ve dithered long enough, so here’s my poem for the day, which, I admit, I love especially for its first line and the word “earlily”, and which I dedicate to the sweet poets visiting our fields, pastures, and gardens all Summer.
by John Clare (1793-1864)
These children of the sun which summer brings
As pastoral minstrels in her merry train
Pipe rustic ballads upon busy wings
And glad the cotters’ quiet toils again.
The white-nosed bee that bores its little hole
In mortared walls and pipes its symphonies,
And never absent couzen, black as coal,
That Indian-like bepaints its little thighs,
With white and red bedight for holiday,
Right earlily a-morn do pipe and play
And with their legs stroke slumber from their eyes.
And aye so fond they of their singing seem
That in their holes abed at close of day
They still keep piping in their honey dreams,
And larger ones that thrum on ruder pipe
Round the sweet smelling closen and rich woods
Where tawny white and red flush clover buds
Shine bonnily and bean fields blossom ripe,
Shed dainty perfumes and give honey food
To these sweet poets of the summer fields;
Me much delighting as I stroll along
The narrow path that hay laid meadow yields,
Catching the windings of their wandering song.
The black and yellow bumble first on wing
To buzz among the sallow’s early flowers,
Hiding its nest in holes from fickle spring
Who stints his rambles with her frequent showers;
And one that may for wiser piper pass,
In livery dress half sables and half red,
Who laps a moss ball in the meadow grass
And hoards her stores when April showers have fled;
And russet commoner who knows the face
Of every blossom that the meadow brings,
Starting the traveller to a quicker pace
By threatening round his head in many rings:
These sweeten summer in their happy glee
By giving for her honey melody.
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John Clare (1793-1864) was the son of a farm laborer and an English poet. In his lifetime he was known as “the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet”, he died in a lunatic asylum in obscurity, and today is considered England’s foremost nature poet. His works are also subject to a bizarre copyright battle.
Clare worked alongside his father from a young age, but was sent to school for three months each year until he turned 12. He published his first volume, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery at the age of 27, followed the next year by The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems, both to great acclaim. He cut as dashing a figure as his fellow Romantic poets,
but outlived them considerably; however, Clare spent his last years — more than 20 of them — in the Northampton General Lunatic Asylum, where he continued to write poetry, including his most celebrated work, I Am, until his death at age 70. He also has a blog, and a luscious David Austin rose.
* * *
Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library has today’s Poetry Friday round-up, where you can find lots of poems to get you through the Labor Day weekend and into the school year. I’m also looking forward to catching up with Charlotte’s Summer posts.