John Clare was born in 1793 in what was then called the Soke of Peterborough, but is now in Northamptonshire – although it his birthplace is only six miles from Peterborough. He came from a humble background, the son of an agricultural labourer. His descriptions of the English countryside are vivid and beautiful, but sadly, John Clare had many troubles, ill-health, poverty, and severe mental health difficulties and in fact died in what was the called a lunatic asylum in 1864.
Isn’t this beautiful:
The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.