One might consider a chapter on a poet to be out of place in a blog about collecting art I have a previous chapter on Robert Bloomfield (rural bard). So when I came across a hand written edition of ‘The Wren’, I thought John Clare would be a fine literary artist to share with people.
#JohnClare (1793-1864) was born in Helpston, near Peterborough. He was the son of a farm labourer. Clare’s writings celebrate the English countryside and his dismay at its’ disruption. His poems are poignant and reminiscent of his rural upbringing. Powerful portrayals of nature in its’ rawest form. Clare spent a number of years in his later life in an asylum where he continued to write and produce his poetry.
This hand written edition of the poem #The Wren comes from 1864. It was the second sheet of a pair. The first is displayed as the second image here. Possibly written by a Master Wallis on June 22, 1864. I have not found a publication date for ‘The Wren’ but John Clare is considered its’ author. John Clare died in May of 1864. Both sheets of paper bear an 1862 watermark.
This blog ,I guess, inadvertently, enters me into the area of the true wordage used by Clare. In the seventh line With mine are other birds that bear the bell occurs as With mine, there’s other birds that bear the bell and again in the penultimate line Tending my sheep: and still they come to tell is given as Tenting my sheep: and still they come to tell. Questions have been raised by scholars as to the correct words or possible meaning of the words used in the versions of the poem. I confess that I prefer the words used in the copy in my collection.