Woodbines climbing oer the door in bowers

Here is a third part of John Clare’s celebration of the country year from his Shepherd’s Calendar. It really is the best portrait of country life!

Woud sell his kindness for a stolen kiss
The large stone pitcher in its homly trim
And clouded pint horn wi its copper rim
Oer which rude healths was drank in spirits high
From the best broach the cellar woud supply
While sung the ancient swains in homly ryhmes
Songs that were pictures of the good old times
When leathern bottles held the beer nut brown
That wakd the sun wi songs and sung him down
Thus will the old man ancient ways bewail
Till toiling sheers gain ground upon the tale
And brakes it off-when from the timid sheep
The fleece is shorn and wi a fearfull leap
He starts-while wi a pressing hand
His sides are printed by the tarry brand
Shaking his naked skin wi wondering joys
And fresh ones are tugd in by sturdy boys
Who when theyre thrown down neath the sheering swain
Will wipe his brow and start his tale again
Tho fashions haughtv frown hath thrown aside
Half the old forms simplicity supplyd
Yet their are some prides winter deigns to spare
Left like green ivy when the trees are bare
And now when sheering of the flocks are done
Some ancient customs mixd wi harmless fun
Crowns the swains merry toils-the timid maid
Pleasd to be praisd and yet of praise affraid
Seeks her best flowers not those of woods and fields
But such as every farmers garden yield
Fine cabbage roses painted like her face
And shining pansys trimmd in golden lace
And tall tuft larkheels featherd thick wi flowers
And woodbines climbing oer the door in bowers
And London tufts of many a mottld hue
And pale pink pea and monkshood darkly blue
And white and purple jiliflowers that stay
Lingering in blossom summer half away
And single blood walls of a lucious smell.

John Clare 1793 – 1864

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