NOW Summer is in flower, and Nature’s hum
Is never silent round her bounteous bloom;
Insects, as small as dust, have never done
With glitt’ring dance, and reeling in the sun;
And green wood-fly, and blossom-haunting bee,
Are never weary of their melody.
Round field and hedge, flowers in full glory twine,
Large bind-weed bells, wild hop, and streak’d woodbine,
That lift athirst their slender throated flowers,
Agape for dew-falls, and for honey showers;
These o’er each bush in sweet disorder run,
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun.
The mottled spider, at eve’s leisure, weaves
His webs of silken lace on twigs and leaves,
Which ev’ry morning meet the poet’s eye,
Like fairies’ dew-wet dresses hung to dry.
The wheat swells into ear, and hides below
The May-month wild flowers and their gaudy show,
Leaving, a school-boy’s height, in snugger rest,
The leveret’s seat, and lark, and partridge nest.
The mowers now bend o’er the beaded grass,
Where oft the gipsy’s hungry journeying ass
Will turn his wishes from the meadow paths,
List’ning the rustle of the falling swaths.
The ploughman sweats along the fallow vales,
And down the sun-crack’d furrow slowly trails;
Oft seeking, when athirst, the brook’s supply,
Where, brushing eagerly the bushes by
For coolest water, he disturbs the rest
Of ring-dove, brooding o’er its idle nest.
The shepherd’s leisure hours are over now;
No more he loiters ’neath the hedge-row bough,
On shadow-pillowed banks and lolling stile;
The wilds must lose their summer friend awhile.
This is a very small excerpt from John Clare’s third volume of poetry, ‘The Shepherd’s Calendar’, which was published in April 1827. Clare’s original manuscripts were severely edited in order to cut down the size and cost of the volume. The book consists of three sections: The Shepherd’s Calendar, Village Stories and Poems.
Read more about John Clare here.