John Clare

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

The Flood


On Lolham Brigs in wild and lonely mood
I've seen the winter floods their gambols play
Through each old arch that trembled while I stood
Bent o'er its wall to watch the dashing spray
As their old stations would be washed away
Crash came the ice against the jambs and then
A shudder jarred the arches - yet once more
It breasted raving waves and stood agen
To wait the shock as stubborn as before
- White foam brown crested with the russet soil
As washed from new plough lands would dart beneath
Then round and round a thousand eddies boil
On tother side - then pause as if for breath
One minute - and engulphed - like life in death

Whose wrecky stains dart on the floods away
More swift than shadows in a stormy day
Straws trail and turn and steady - all in vain
The engulfing arches shoot them quickly through
The feather dances flutters and again
Darts through the deepest dangers still afloat
Seeming as faireys whisked it from the view
And danced it o'er the waves as pleasures boat
Light hearted as a thought in May -
Trays - uptorn bushes - fence demolished rails
Loaded with weeds in sluggish motions stray
Like water monsters lost each winds and trails
Till near the arches - then as in affright
It plunges - reels - and shudders out of sight

Waves trough - rebound - and fury boil again
Like plunging monsters rising underneath
Who at the top curl up a shaggy main
A moment catching at a surer breath
Then plunging headlong down and down - and on
Each following boil the shadow of the last
And other monsters rise when those are gone
Crest their fringed waves - plunge onward and are past
- The chill air comes around me ocean blea
From bank to bank the waterstrife is spread
Strange birds like snow spots o'er the huzzing sea
Hang where the wild duck hurried past and fled
On roars the flood - all restless to be free
Like trouble wandering to eternity

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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