John Clare

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

Distant Hills


What is there in those distant hills
My fancy longs to see,
That many a mood of joy instils?
Say what can fancy be?

Do old oaks thicken all the woods,
With weeds and brakes as here?
Does common water make the floods,
That's common everywhere?

Is grass the green that clothes the ground?
Are springs the common springs?
Daisies and cowslips dropping round,
Are such the flowers she brings?

* * * * *

Are cottages of mud and stone,
By valley wood and glen,
And their calm dwellers little known
Men, and but common men,

That drive afield with carts and ploughs?
Such men are common here,
And pastoral maidens milking cows
Are dwelling everywhere.

If so my fancy idly clings
To notions far away,
And longs to roam for common things
All round her every day,

Right idle would the journey be
To leave one's home so far,
And see the moon I now can see
And every little star.

And have they there a night and day,
And common counted hours?
And do they see so far away
This very moon of ours?

* * * * *

I mark him climb above the trees
With one small [comrade] star,
And think me in my reveries--
He cannot shine so far.

* * * * *

The poets in the tales they tell
And with their happy powers
Have made lands where their fancies dwell
Seem better lands than ours.

Why need I sigh far hills to see
If grass is their array,
While here the little paths go through
The greenest every day?

Such fancies fill the restless mind,
At once to cheat and cheer
With thought and semblance undefined,
Nowhere and everywhere.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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