At the Alliance of Literary Societies annual gathering this year I met members of the John Clare Society. I had to confess I had never heard of, let alone read any of the works of, John Clare.
Clare was a poet and contemporary of both Wordsworth and Keats. He was born and brought up in the countryside near Peterborough. His poetry reflects a deep understanding of and an abiding passion for the natural world around him.
Largely neglected after his death, his poems are enjoying renewed interest now as his connection with the land, arising out of his humble origins, is becoming recognised and respected.
I must thank the members of the John Clare Society who very kindly gave me a copy of The Wood is Sweet, a collection of Clare’s poetry to introduce me to his works.
The wood is sweet, I love it well
In spending there my leisure hours,
To look the snail its painted shell
And search about for curious flowers,
Or ‘neath the hazel’s leafy thatch
On a stulp or mossy ground,
Like squirrel’s gambols watch
Oak trees dancing round and round
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