Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title.
HEAVEN ETERNAL IN A FLOWER
All nature has a feeling:woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There`s nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
It`s birth was heaven, eternal is it`s stay,
And with the sun and moon will still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.
~~ John Clare: 1793-1864 ~~
John Clare was known as the peasant`s poet; unusual for his time, John was an educated farm labourer`s son. He lived in a small two up two down earthen floored cottage in the depths of rural Northamptonshire, England, with 3 generations of the Clare family, comprising ten people. He would walk the fields and meadows, alive with wild flowers, birds and other living things that crawled and walked. A landscape wide and open to all to graze their animals and pursue a self sustaining livelihood. Because of his education, he was something of an oddity to a local community illiterate for the most part. But then came the enclosure of land, denying access to all but the local gentry, who were given this right by politicians who just happened to be the very same landed gentry who had pushed through the Enclosure Acts in Parliament. John Clare was at once denied his daily walks upon free land, and the future well being of his family threatened. Times were always harsh for those without a voice, and John decided to give them one through his writings, which became widely read and supported. Unfortunately, his heavy drinking took an increasing toll on his constitution and may have contributed to a gradual slide into mental ill health, which eventually saw him admitted into an asylum. One man wrote to him asking after his health, and when would he start writing again: John`s reply is one of the most soul destroying and pitiable things any writer could utter…………………….
“I am in a madhouse. I quite forget your name…….You must excuse me, for I have nothing to communicate. I have nothing to say.”
Well, John did have something to say; his words are some of the most beautiful, simple and heartfelt ever to be put to paper. For him, nature was a universe of spiritual discovery; to die in a cold, stone enclosed and locked room, is probably the worst sentence that could have been imposed upon him.