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John Clare

(13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864 / Northamptonshire / England)

Decay


O Poesy is on the wane,
For Fancy's visions all unfitting;
I hardly know her face again,
Nature herself seems on the flitting.
The fields grow old and common things,
The grass, the sky, the winds a-blowing;
And spots, where still a beauty clings,
Are sighing 'going! all a-going!'
O Poesy is on the wane,
I hardly know her face again.

The bank with brambles overspread,
And little molehills round about it,
Was more to me than laurel shades,
With paths of gravel finely clouted;
And streaking here and streaking there,
Through shaven grass and many a border,
With rutty lanes had no compare,
And heaths were in a richer order.
But Poesy is on the wane,
I hardly know her face again.

I sat beside the pasture stream,
When Beauty's self was sitting by,
The fields did more than Eden seem
Nor could I tell the reason why.
I often drank when not adry
To pledge her health in draughts divine;
Smiles made it nectar from the sky,
Love turned een water into wine.
O Poesy is on the wane,
I cannot find her face again.

The sun those mornings used to find,
Its clouds were other-country mountains,
And heaven looked downward on the mind,
Like groves, and rocks, and mottled fountains.
Those heavens are gone, the mountains grey
Turned mist--the sun, a homeless ranger,
Pursues alone his naked way,
Unnoticed like a very stranger.
O Poesy is on the wane,
Nor love nor joy is mine again.

Love's sun went down without a frown,
For very joy it used to grieve us;
I often think the West is gone,
Ah, cruel Time, to undeceive us.
The stream it is a common stream,
Where we on Sundays used to ramble,
The sky hangs oer a broken dream,
The bramble's dwindled to a bramble!
O Poesy is on the wane,
I cannot find her haunts again.

Mere withered stalks and fading trees,
And pastures spread with hills and rushes,
Are all my fading vision sees;
Gone, gone are rapture's flooding gushes!
When mushrooms they were fairy bowers,
Their marble pillars overswelling,
And Danger paused to pluck the flowers
That in their swarthy rings were dwelling.
Yes, Poesy is on the wane,
Nor joy nor fear is mine again.

Aye, Poesy hath passed away,
And Fancy's visions undeceive us;
The night hath ta'en the place of day,
And why should passing shadows grieve us?
I thought the flowers upon the hills
Were flowers from Adam's open gardens;
But I have had my summer thrills,
And I have had my heart's rewardings.
So Poesy is on the wane,
I hardly know her face again.

And Friendship it hath burned away,
Like to a very ember cooling,
A make-believe on April day
That sent the simple heart a-fooling;
Mere jesting in an earnest way,
Deceiving on and still deceiving;
And Hope is but a fancy-play,
And Joy the art of true believing;
For Poesy is on the wane,
O could I feel her faith again!

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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