Posted by: braddenvillage | January 30, 2010

John Clare – A Northamptonshire Poet

I thought it might be interested to find out if Northamptonshire had any famous poets and found pages and pages about John Clare. Here is an extract from a website edited by Simon Kovesi (Oxford Brookes University).

“John Clare’s life spanned one of the great ages of English poetry but, until about fifty years ago, few would have thought of putting his name with those of Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Browning and Tennyson.

Born in 1793, the son of humble and almost illiterate parents, Clare grew up in the Northamptonshire village of Helpston and made the surrounding countryside his world. His formal education, such as it was, ended when he was eleven years old, but this child of the ‘unwearying eye’ had a thirst for knowledge and became a model example of the self-taught man. As a poet of rural England he has few rivals.

From the moment his first publication – Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery – appeared, it was clear that England had a new and very original poet. Sadly, the public’s enthusiasm did not last long and each new volume met with diminishing applause. Ill and in debt, he left Helpston for Northborough from where he was eventually removed to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum, where he died in 1864.”

To find out more about Clare’s writings, why not visit the John Clare website, (click on:, edited by Simon Kovesi (Oxford Brookes University).

From ‘January’, The Shepherd’s Calendar (1827):

Oh! Spirit of the days gone by—
The witching spells of winter nights,
Sweet childhood’s fearful ecstacy!
Where are they fled with their delights?
When list’ning on the corner seat,
The winter evening’s length to cheat,
I heard my mother’s memory tell
Tales Superstition loves so well:—
Things said or sung a thousand times,
In simple prose or simpler rhymes!
Ah! where is page of poesy
So sweet as this was wont to be?
The magic wonders that deceived,
When fictions were as truths believed;
The fairy feats that once prevail’d,
Told to delight, and never fail’d:
Where are they now, their fears and sighs,
And tears from founts of happy eyes?
I read in books, but find them not,
For Poesy hath its youth forgot:
I hear them told to children still,
But fear numbs not my spirits chill:
I still see faces pale with dread,
While mine could laugh at what is said;
See tears imagined woes supply,
While mine with real cares are dry.
Where are they gone?—the joys and fears,
The links, the life of other years?
I thought they twined around my heart
So close, that we could never part;
But Reason, like a winter’s day,
Nipp’d childhood’s visions all away,
Nor left behind one withering flower
To cherish in a lonely hour.


  1. he’s a talented poet for sure

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