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May Analysis

Author: poem of John Clare Type: poem Views: 4

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Come queen of months in company

Wi all thy merry minstrelsy

The restless cuckoo absent long

And twittering swallows chimney song

And hedge row crickets notes that run

From every bank that fronts the sun

And swathy bees about the grass

That stops wi every bloom they pass

And every minute every hour

Keep teazing weeds that wear a flower

And toil and childhoods humming joys

For there is music in the noise

The village childern mad for sport

In school times leisure ever short

That crick and catch the bouncing ball

And run along the church yard wall

Capt wi rude figured slabs whose claims

In times bad memory hath no names

Oft racing round the nookey church

Or calling ecchos in the porch

And jilting oer the weather cock

Viewing wi jealous eyes the clock

Oft leaping grave stones leaning hights

Uncheckt wi mellancholy sights

The green grass swelld in many a heap

Where kin and friends and parents sleep

Unthinking in their jovial cry

That time shall come when they shall lye

As lowly and as still as they

While other boys above them play

Heedless as they do now to know

The unconcious dust that lies below

The shepherd goes wi happy stride

Wi moms long shadow by his side

Down the dryd lanes neath blooming may

That once was over shoes in clay

While martins twitter neath his eves

Which he at early morning leaves

The driving boy beside his team

Will oer the may month beauty dream

And cock his hat and turn his eye

On flower and tree and deepning skye

And oft bursts loud in fits of song

And whistles as he reels along

Crack[ing] his whip in starts of joy

A happy dirty driving boy

The youth who leaves his corner stool

Betimes for neighbouring village school

While as a mark to urge him right

The church spires all the way in sight

Wi cheerings from his parents given

Starts neath the joyous smiles of heaven

And sawns wi many an idle stand

Wi bookbag swinging in his hand

And gazes as he passes bye

On every thing that meets his eye

Young lambs seem tempting him to play

Dancing and bleating in his way

Wi trembling tails and pointed ears

They follow him and loose their fears

He smiles upon their sunny faces

And feign woud join their happy races

The birds that sing on bush and tree

Seem chirping for his company

And all in fancys idle whim

Seem keeping holiday but him

He lolls upon each resting stile

To see the fields so sweetly smile

To see the wheat grow green and long

And list the weeders toiling song

Or short not[e] of the changing thrush

Above him in the white thorn bush

That oer the leaning stile bends low

Loaded wi mockery of snow

Mozzld wi many a lushing thread

Of crab tree blossoms delicate red

He often bends wi many a wish

Oer the brig rail to view the fish

Go sturting by in sunny gleams

And chucks in the eye dazzld streams

Crumbs from his pocket oft to watch

The swarming struttle come to catch

Them where they to the bottom sile

Sighing in fancys joy the while

Hes cautiond not to stand so nigh

By rosey milkmaid tripping bye

Where he admires wi fond delight

And longs to be there mute till night

He often ventures thro the day

At truant now and then to play

Rambling about the field and plain

Seeking larks nests in the grain

And picking flowers and boughs of may

To hurd awhile and throw away

Lurking neath bushes from the sight

Of tell tale eyes till schools noon night

Listing each hour for church clocks hum

To know the hour to wander home

That parents may not think him long

Nor dream of his rude doing wrong

Dreading thro the night wi dreaming pain

To meet his masters wand again

Each hedge is loaded thick wi green

And where the hedger late hath been

Tender shoots begin to grow

From the mossy stumps below

While sheep and cow that teaze the grain

will nip them to the root again

They lay their bill and mittens bye

And on to other labours hie

While wood men still on spring intrudes

And thins the shadow solitudes

Wi sharpend axes felling down

The oak trees budding into brown

Where as they crash upon the ground

A crowd of labourers gather round

And mix among the shadows dark

To rip the crackling staining bark

From off the tree and lay when done

The rolls in lares to meet the sun

Depriving yearly where they come

The green wood pecker of its home

That early in the spring began

Far from the sight of troubling man

And bord their round holes in each tree

In fancys sweet security

Till startld wi the woodmans noise

It wakes from all its dreaming joys

The blue bells too that thickly bloom

Where man was never feared to come

And smell smocks that from view retires

Mong rustling leaves and bowing briars

And stooping lilys of the valley

That comes wi shades and dews to dally

White beady drops on slender threads

Wi broad hood leaves above their heads

Like white robd maids in summer hours

Neath umberellas shunning showers

These neath the barkmens crushing treads

Oft perish in their blooming beds

Thus stript of boughs and bark in white

Their trunks shine in the mellow light

Beneath the green surviving trees

That wave above them in the breeze

And waking whispers slowly bends

As if they mournd their fallen friends

Each morning now the weeders meet

To cut the thistle from the wheat

And ruin in the sunny hours

Full many wild weeds of their flowers

Corn poppys that in crimson dwell

Calld 'head achs' from their sickly smell

And carlock yellow as the sun

That oer the may fields thickly run

And 'iron weed' content to share

The meanest spot that spring can spare

Een roads where danger hourly comes

Is not wi out its purple blooms

And leaves wi points like thistles round

Thickset that have no strength to wound

That shrink to childhoods eager hold

Like hair-and with its eye of gold

And scarlet starry points of flowers

Pimpernel dreading nights and showers

Oft calld 'the shepherds weather glass'

That sleep till suns have dyd the grass

Then wakes and spreads its creeping bloom

Till clouds or threatning shadows come

Then close it shuts to sleep again

Which weeders see and talk of rain

And boys that mark them shut so soon

will call them 'John go bed at noon

And fumitory too a name

That superstition holds to fame

Whose red and purple mottled flowers

Are cropt by maids in weeding hours

To boil in water milk and way1

For washes on an holiday

To make their beauty fair and sleak

And scour the tan from summers cheek

And simple small forget me not

Eyd wi a pinshead yellow spot

I'th'2 middle of its tender blue

That gains from poets notice due

These flowers the toil by crowds destroys

And robs them of their lowly joys

That met the may wi hopes as sweet

As those her suns in gardens meet

And oft the dame will feel inclind

As childhoods memory comes to mind

To turn her hook away and spare

The blooms it lovd to gather there

My wild field catalogue of flowers

Grows in my ryhmes as thick as showers

Tedious and long as they may be

To some, they never weary me

The wood and mead and field of grain

I coud hunt oer and oer again

And talk to every blossom wild

Fond as a parent to a child

And cull them in my childish joy

By swarms and swarms and never cloy

When their lank shades oer morning pearls

Shrink from their lengths to little girls

And like the clock hand pointing one

Is turnd and tells the morning gone

They leave their toils for dinners hour

Beneath some hedges bramble bower

And season sweet their savory meals

Wi joke and tale and merry peals

Of ancient tunes from happy tongues

While linnets join their fitful songs

Perchd oer their heads in frolic play

Among the tufts of motling may

The young girls whisper things of love

And from the old dames hearing move

Oft making 'love knotts' in the shade

Of blue green oat or wheaten blade

And trying simple charms and spells

That rural superstition tells

They pull the little blossom threads

From out the knapweeds button heads

And put the husk wi many a smile

In their white bosoms for awhile

Who if they guess aright the swain

That loves sweet fancys trys to gain

Tis said that ere its lain an hour

Twill blossom wi a second flower

And from her white breasts hankerchief

Bloom as they ne'er had lost a leaf

When signs appear that token wet

As they are neath the bushes met

The girls are glad wi hopes of play

And harping of the holiday

A hugh blue bird will often swim

Along the wheat when skys grow dim

Wi clouds-slow as the gales of spring

In motion wi dark shadowd wing

Beneath the coming storm it sails

And lonly chirps the wheat hid quails

That came to live wi spring again

And start when summer browns the grain

They start the young girls joys afloat

Wi 'wet my foot' its yearly note

So fancy doth the sound explain

And proves it oft a sign of rain

About the moor 'mong sheep and cow

The boy or old man wanders now

Hunting all day wi hopful pace

Each thick sown rushy thistly place

For plover eggs while oer them flye

The fearful birds wi teazing cry

Trying to lead their steps astray

And coying him another way

And be the weather chill or warm

Wi brown hats truckd beneath his arm

Holding each prize their search has won

They plod bare headed to the sun

Now dames oft bustle from their wheels

Wi childern scampering at their heels

To watch the bees that hang and swive

In clumps about each thronging hive

And flit and thicken in the light

While the old dame enjoys the sight

And raps the while their warming pans

A spell that superstition plans

To coax them in the garden bounds

As if they lovd the tinkling sounds

And oft one hears the dinning noise

Which dames believe each swarm decoys

Around each village day by day

Mingling in the warmth of may

Sweet scented herbs her skill contrives

To rub the bramble platted hives

Fennels thread leaves and crimpld balm

To scent the new house of the swarm

The thresher dull as winter days

And lost to all that spring displays

Still mid his barn dust forcd to stand

Swings his frail round wi weary hand

While oer his head shades thickly creep

And hides the blinking owl asleep

And bats in cobweb corners bred

Sharing till night their murky bed

The sunshine trickles on the floor

Thro every crevice of the door

And makes his barn where shadows dwell

As irksome as a prisoners cell

And as he seeks his daily meal

As schoolboys from their tasks will steal

ile often stands in fond delay

To see the daisy in his way

And wild weeds flowering on the wall

That will his childish sports recall

Of all the joys that came wi spring

The twirling top the marble ring

The gingling halfpence hussld up

At pitch and toss the eager stoop

To pick up heads, the smuggeld plays

Neath hovels upon sabbath days

When parson he is safe from view

And clerk sings amen in his pew

The sitting down when school was oer

Upon the threshold by his door

Picking from mallows sport to please

Each crumpld seed he calld a cheese

And hunting from the stackyard sod

The stinking hen banes belted pod

By youths vain fancys sweetly fed

Christning them his loaves of bread

He sees while rocking down the street

Wi weary hands and crimpling feet

Young childern at the self same games

And hears the self same simple names

Still floating on each happy tongue

Touchd wi the simple scene so strong

Tears almost start and many a sigh

Regrets the happiness gone bye

And in sweet natures holiday

His heart is sad while all is gay

How lovly now are lanes and balks

For toils and lovers sunday walks

The daisey and the buttercup

For which the laughing childern stoop

A hundred times throughout the day

In their rude ramping summer play

So thickly now the pasture crowds

In gold and silver sheeted clouds

As if the drops in april showers

Had woo'd the sun and swoond to flowers

The brook resumes its summer dresses

Purling neath grass and water cresses

And mint and flag leaf swording high

Their blooms to the unheeding eye

And taper bowbent hanging rushes

And horse tail childerns bottle brushes

And summer tracks about its brink

Is fresh again where cattle drink

And on its sunny bank the swain

Stretches his idle length again

Soon as the sun forgets the day

The moon looks down on the lovly may

And the little star his friend and guide

Travelling together side by side

And the seven stars and charleses wain1

Hangs smiling oer green woods agen

The heaven rekindles all alive

Wi light the may bees round the hive

Swarm not so thick in mornings eye

As stars do in the evening skye

All all are nestling in their joys

The flowers and birds and pasture boys

The firetail, long a stranger, comes

To his last summer haunts and homes

To hollow tree and crevisd wall

And in the grass the rails odd call

That featherd spirit stops the swain

To listen to his note again

And school boy still in vain retraces

The secrets of his hiding places

In the black thorns crowded cops~e1

Thro its varied turns and stops

The nightingale its ditty weaves

Hid in a multitude of leaves

The boy stops short to hear the strain

And 'sweet jug jug' he mocks again

The yellow hammer builds its nest

By banks where sun beams earliest rest

That drys the dews from off the grass

Shading it from all that pass

Save the rude boy wi ferret gaze

That hunts thro evry secret maze

He finds its pencild eggs agen

All streakd wi lines as if a pen

By natures freakish hand was took

To scrawl them over like a book

And from these many mozzling marks

The school boy names them 'writing larks'

Bum barrels twit on bush and tree

Scarse bigger then a bumble bee

And in a white thorns leafy rest

It builds its curious pudding-nest

Wi hole beside as if a mouse

Had built the little barrel house

Toiling full many a lining feather

And bits of grey tree moss together

Amid the noisey rooky park

Beneath the firdales branches dark

The little golden crested wren

Hangs up his glowing nest agen

And sticks it to the furry leaves

As martins theirs beneath the eaves

The old hens leave the roost betimes

And oer the garden pailing climbs

To scrat the gardens fresh turnd soil

And if unwatchd his crops to spoil

Oft cackling from the prison yard

To peck about the houseclose sward

Catching at butterflys and things

Ere they have time to try their wings

The cattle feels the breath of may

And kick and toss their heads in play

The ass beneath his bags of sand

Oft jerks the string from leaders hand

And on the road will eager stoop

To pick the sprouting thistle up

Oft answering on his weary way

Some distant neighbours sobbing bray

Dining the ears of driving boy

As if he felt a fit of joy

Wi in its pinfold circle left

Of all its company bereft

Starvd stock no longer noising round

Lone in the nooks of foddering ground

Each skeleton of lingering stack

By winters tempests beaten black

Nodds upon props or bolt upright

Stands swarthy in the summer light

And oer the green grass seems to lower

Like stump of old time wasted tower

All that in winter lookd for hay

Spread from their batterd haunts away

To pick the grass or lye at lare

Beneath the mild hedge shadows there

Sweet month that gives a welcome call

To toil and nature and to all

Yet one day mid thy many joys

Is dead to all its sport and noise

Old may day where's thy glorys gone

All fled and left thee every one

Thou comst to thy old haunts and homes

Unnoticd as a stranger comes

No flowers are pluckt to hail the now

Nor cotter seeks a single bough

The maids no more on thy sweet morn

Awake their thresholds to adorn

Wi dewey flowers-May locks new come

And princifeathers cluttering bloom

And blue bells from the woodland moss

And cowslip cucking balls to toss

Above the garlands swinging hight

Hang in the soft eves sober light

These maid and child did yearly pull

By many a folded apron full

But all is past the merry song

Of maidens hurrying along

To crown at eve the earliest cow

Is gone and dead and silent now

The laugh raisd at the mocking thorn

Tyd to the cows tail last that morn

The kerchief at arms length displayd

Held up by pairs of swain and maid

While others bolted underneath

Bawling loud wi panting breath

'Duck under water' as they ran

Alls ended as they ne'er began

While the new thing that took thy place

Wears faded smiles upon its face

And where enclosure has its birth

It spreads a mildew oer her mirth

The herd no longer one by one

Goes plodding on her morning way

And garlands lost and sports nigh gone

Leaves her like thee a common day

Yet summer smiles upon thee still

Wi natures sweet unalterd will

And at thy births unworshipd hours

Fills her green lap wi swarms of flowers

To crown thee still as thou hast been

Of spring and summer months the queen


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