Now is the time for the burning of the leaves,

They go to the fire; the nostrils prick with smoke

Wandering slowly into the weeping mist.

Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!

A flame seizes the smouldering ruin, and bites

On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.

The last hollyhock’s fallen tower is dust:

All the spices of June are a bitter reek,

All the extravagant riches spent and mean.

All burns! the reddest rose is a ghost.

Spark whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild

Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.

Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,

Time for the burning of days ended and done,

Idle solace of things that have gone before,

Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there:

Let them go to the fire with never a look behind.

That world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.

They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise

From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,

And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;

The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.

Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.

Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.
Laurence Binyon



haymaking 2

‘It’s late so soon,’ he said –

The sun still high but the day nearly over,

The weed at July and summer toppling.

Away in the intake,

The scaled-out grass sprawled sodden, the ewes wanted clipping,

And the lambs were as big as their mothers.

He stared across the dale.

On its eastern shoulder every cobble and clint

Was seven-times magnified under the lens of light;

The other slope was plunged in a reservoir of shadow.

Bracken, rank and viscous, stank like compost,

The rowans were already reddening.

And the rag-mat of autumn lay coiled up in the corries,

Waiting to be rolled out over fell-foot and byre.

He pushed segged thumbs through hair too early grey,

And said again: ‘That’s the trouble with summer –

It’s late so soon.’


Norman Nicholson

Collected Poems


Pleasant Places



Pleasant Places
Old stone pits with veined ivy overhung
Wild crooked brooks o’er which was rudely flung
A rail and plank that bends beneath the tread
Old narrow lanes where trees meet overhead
Path stiles on which a steeple we espy
Peeping and stretching in the distant sky
And heaths o’erspread with furze blooms’ sunny shine
Where wonder pauses to exclaim ‘divine’
Old ponds dim-shadowed with a broken tree –
These are the picturesque of taste to me
While paintings winds to make compleat the scene
In rich confusion mingles every green
Waving the sketching pencil in their hands
Shading the living scenes to fairey lands

John Clare

13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864

The luscious green before the bloom




The Wind


The wind blows happily on every thing.

The very weeds that shake beside the fold

Bowing, they dance, do any thing but sing

And all the scene is lovely to behold:

Blue mists of morning, evenings of gold.

How beautiful the wind will play with Spring:

Flowers beam with every colour light beholds,

Showers o’er the landscape fly on wet pearl wings

And winds stir up unnumbered pleasant things.



I love the luscious green before the bloom,

The leaves and grass and even beds of moss,

When leaves ‘gin bud and Spring prepares to come,

The ivy’s evergreen, the brown green gorse,

Plots of green weeds that barest road engross.

In fact I love the youth of each green thing:

The grass, the trees, the bushes and the moss

That pleases little birds and makes them sing.

I love the green before the blooms of Spring.



John Clare

This Happy Spirit

Selected & edited by R. K. R. Thornton & Carry Akroyd


Crows in Spring


The Crow will tumble up and down
At the first sight of spring
And in old trees around the town
Brush winter from its wing

No longer flapping far away
To naked fen they fly,
Chill fare as on a winter’s day,
But field and valley nigh;

Where swains are stirring out to plough
And woods are just at hand,
They seek the upland’s sunny brow
And strut from land to land,

And often flap their sooty wing
And sturt to neighbouring tree,
And seem to try all ways to sing
And almost speak in glee.

The ploughman hears and turns his head
Above to wonder why;
And there a new nest nearly made
Proclaims the winter by.

John Clare


Shepherd’s Carol





Three practical farmers from back of the dale –

Under the high sky –

On a Saturday night said ‘so long’ to their sheep

That were bottom of dyke and fast asleep –

When the stars came out in the Christmas sky.



They called at the pub for a gill of ale –

Under the high sky –

And they found in the stable, stacked with the corn,

The latest arrival, newly-born –

When the stars came out in the Christmas sky



They forgot their drink, they rubbed their eyes –

Under the high sky –

They were tough as leather and ripe as a cheese

But they dropped like a ten-year-old down on their knees

When the stars came out in the Christmas sky.



They ran out in the yard to swap their news –

Under the high sky –

They pulled off their caps and they roused a cheer

To greet a spring lamb before the New Year –

When the stars came out in the Christmas sky


Norman Nicholson

No star on the way back

Ballads and carols 1967


As the clouds that are so light


As the clouds that are so light,
Beautiful, swift, and bright,
Cast shadows on field and park
Of the earth that is so dark,

And even so now, light one!
Beautiful, swift and bright one!
You let fall on a heart that was dark,
Unillumined, a deeper mark.

But clouds would have, without earth
To shadow, far less worth:
Away from your shadow on me
Your beauty less would be,

And if it still be treasured
An age hence, it shall be measured
By this small dark spot
Without which it were not.

Edward Thomas

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