All how silent and how still;
Nothing heard but yonder mill:
While the dazzled eye surveys
All around in liquid blaze;
And amid the scorching gleams,
If we earnest look, it seems
As if crooked bits of glass
Seem'd repeatedly to pass.
Oh, for a puffing breeze to blow!
But breezes all are strangers now;
Not a twig is seen to shake,
Nor the smallest bent to quake;
From the river's muddy side,
Not a curve is seen to glide;
And no longer on the stream,
Watching lies the silver bream,
Forcing from repeated springs,
"Verges in successive rings."
Bees are faint and cease to hum;
Birds are overpowr'd and dumb.
Rural voices all are mute,
Tuneless lies the pipe and flute:
Shepherds, with their panting sheep,
In the swaliest corner creep;
And from the tormenting heat
All are wishing to retreat.
Huddled up in grass and flowers,
Mowers wait for cooler hours;
And the cow-boy seeks the sedge,
Ramping in the woodland hedge,
While his cattle o'er the vales
Scamper with uplifted tails;
Others not so wild and mad,
That can better bear the gad,
Underneath the hedge-row lunge,
Or, if nigh, in waters plunge.
Oh! to see how flowers are took,
How it grieves me when I look:
Ragged-robins, once so pink
Now are turn'd as black as ink,
And their leaves being scorch'd so much,
Even crumble at the touch;
Drowking lies the meadow-sweet,
Flopping down beneath one's feet:
While to all the flow'rs that blow,
If in open air they grow,
Th'injurious deed alike is done
By the hot relentless sun.
E'en the dew is parched up
From the teasel's jointed cup;
O poor birds! where must ye fly,
Now your water-pots are dry?
If ye stay upon the heath
Ye'll be choak'd and clamm'd to death.
Therefore leave the shadeless goss,
Seek the spring-head lin'd with moss;
There your little feet may stand,
Safely printing on the sand;
While, in full possession, where
Purling eddies ripple clear,
You with ease and plenty blest,
Sip the coolest and the best.
Then away! and wet your throats,
Cheer me with your warbling notes;
'Twill hot Noon the more revive;
While I wander to contrive
For myself a place as good,
In the middle of a wood;
There aside some mossy bank,
Where the grass in bunches rank
Lift its down on spindles high,
Shall be where I'll choose to lie;
Fearless of the things that creep,
There I'll think and there I'll sleep;
Caring not to stir at all,
Till the dew begins to fall.
John Clare (1793-1864)
The Oxford Book of Regency Verse (1928), ed. H.S. Milford, # 278.
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Thu. 07/31/08 12:00:00 PM
Categorized as Literary.