Sunday Poetry – John Clare

I’ve been reading Ronald Blythe’s memoir, The Time by the Sea, & it made me think of John Clare, a poet much loved by Blythe. I also seem to be continuing the themes of melancholy & parting that feature in the poems by Byron & Keats that I’ve posted in the last couple of weeks. A young girl parting from her loved one, a soldier off to war, knowing that they will probably never meet again.

Sad was the day when my Willie did leave me,
Sad was the moments that winged him away,
And oh most distressing and most it did grieve me
To witness his looks when I pressed him to stay!
It hurt him to think that in vain was my crying,
Which I couldn’t help though I knew it so too –
The trumpets all sounding the colours all flying
A soldier my Willie he couldn’t but go.

The youths never heeding tomorrow and danger
Were laughing and toasting their girls o’er their beer,
But oh my poor Willie just like a lost stranger
Stood speechless among them half-dead as it were!
He kissed me – ’twas all – not a word when he started,
And oh in his silence too much I could see:
He knew for a truth, and he knew broken-hearted,
That kiss was the last he should ever give me.

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