Friday, April 29, 2016

You say, you want a revolution

Do I accept John Clare's frequent
allusions to mental limitation as
really not a coyness seeking comp-
liments? I do. His finer days are
everyone's; so fine, Clare would
have been frustrated. Then a spir-
it bonds with his when he passes
the palette to the reader, whom 
he reinforces in his earnestness,
to be empowered and released. He
was often thought to be reckless,
in this generosity. What name can
one give to that success in Clare,
which expects one to succeed it -
to pass, in effect, through it?

     The rich brown-umber hue the oaks unfold
     When spring's young sunshine bathes their trunks in gold,
     So rich, so beautiful, so past the power
     Of words to paint - my heart aches for the dower
     The pencil gives to soften and infuse
     This brown luxuriance of unfolding hues,
     This living luscious tinting woodlands give
     Into a landscape that might breathe and live,
     And this old gate that claps against the tree
     The entrance of spring's paradise should be -
     Yet paint itself with living nature fails:
     The sunshine threading through these broken rails
     In mellow shades no pencil e'er conveys,
     And mind alone feels fancies and portrays.

John Clare
"I am"
  The Selected Poetry of
  John Clare
  Wood Pictures in Spring
Jonathan Bate
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005©

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