The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #173260   Message #4202357
Posted By: GUEST,henryp
11-May-24 - 08:35 AM
Thread Name: English tunes & poems by John Clare
Subject: RE: English tunes & poems by John Clare
Overnight, in the eyes of the law, enclosure turned local people hunting for food into poachers. If caught, they now faced severe penalties; after all, it was the landowners who sat in judgement on them! While there are many songs about poachers - and the punishment of transportation - songs about the enclosures themselves are elusive.

These are the final lines of 'The Mores', to complete the lines given above. They express Clare's thoughts and feelings about the new walls and boundaries. On some estates, the villagers were obliged to build the walls that kept them out! Clare's lines are continuous; the breaks are mine to make them a little easier to read.

Fence now meets fence in owners’ little bounds
Of field and meadow large as garden grounds
In little parcels little minds to please
With men and flocks imprisoned ill at ease

Each little path that led its pleasant way
As sweet as morning leading night astray
Where little flowers bloomed round a varied host
That travel felt delighted to be lost

Nor grudged the steps that he had ta-en as vain
When right roads traced his journeys and again -
Nay, on a broken tree he’d sit awhile
To see the mores and fields and meadows smile

Sometimes with cowslaps smothered - then all white
With daiseys - then the summer’s splendid sight
Of cornfields crimson o’er the headache bloomd
Like splendid armys for the battle plumed

He gazed upon them with wild fancy’s eye
As fallen landscapes from an evening sky
These paths are stopt - the rude philistine’s thrall
Is laid upon them and destroyed them all

Each little tyrant with his little sign
Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine
But paths to freedom and to childhood dear
A board sticks up to notice ‘no road here’

And on the tree with ivy overhung
The hated sign by vulgar taste is hung
As tho’ the very birds should learn to know
When they go there they must no further go

Thus, with the poor, scared freedom bade goodbye
And much they feel it in the smothered sigh
And birds and trees and flowers without a name
All sighed when lawless law’s enclosure came

And dreams of plunder in such rebel schemes
Have found too truly that they were but dreams