John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

obscure, because Clare was struggling with an order of thought to which he was not born, but in spite of the obscurity, its purity and truth and justice are manifest. He had indeed ‘kept his spirit with the free. ’

Quotes ‘I lost the love of heaven above…’]


132.

Alan Porter on a book of the moment

1924

From a review of Madrigals and Chronicles, Spectator, 23 August 1924, no. 5017, 260-1.

For Alan Porter, see No. 121.

It is the early Clare who wins our affection, Clare who was in love with the ‘shy-come nightingale, ’ the yellowhammer, ‘fluttering in short fears, ’ the white-nosed bee and its ‘never absent couzen, black as coal, ’ the ‘little fish that nimble by, ’ every spot in the cowslip, every streak in the bindweed. We are in the Age of Innocence when we read the detail of nature so transfigured by love, and by wonder, too:—


Aye, as I live! her secret nest is here,
Upon this white-thorn stump. I’ve searched about
For hours in vain. There! put that bramble by—
Nay, trample on its branches and get near.
How subtle is the bird!

We can picture him well at this time: short and thin and pale, with a great head too large for his elfish body; country-dressed, in a green smock and hob-nailed boots; with rough hands and a shameless Northamptonshire accent, but bearing himself with such grace that strangers took him for ‘a nobleman in disguise, ’ and Lamb used to refer

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