"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

05 January 2017


Munkácsi, The Lark Lover, 1930


Ay, little Larky! what’s the reason,
Singing thus in winter season?
Nothing, surely, can be pleasing
To make thee sing;
For I see nought but cold and freezing,
And feel its sting.

Perhaps, all done with silent mourning,
Thou think’st that Summer is returning,
And this the last, cold, frosty morning,
            To chill thy breast;                                                        
If so, I pity thy discerning:
                    And so I’ve guess’d.

Poor, little Songster! vainly cheated;
Stay, leave thy singing uncompleted;
Drop where thou wast beforehand seated,
In thy warm nest;
Nor let vain wishes be repeated,
But sit at rest.

’Tis Winter; let the cold content thee:
Wish after nothing till its sent thee,
For disappointments will torment thee,
Which will be thine:
I know it well, for I’ve had plenty
Misfortunes mine.

Advice, sweet Warbler! don’t despise it:
None knows what’s what, but he that tries it;
And then he well knows how to prize it,
And so do I:
Thy case, with mine I sympathise it,
                      With many a sigh.

Vain Hope! of thee I’ve had my portion;
Mere flimsy cobweb! changing ocean!
That flits the scene at every motion,
            And still eggs on,
With sweeter view, and stronger notion
            To dwell upon:­—

Yes, I’ve dwelt long on idle fancies,
Strange and uncommon as romances,
On future luck my noddle dances,
            What I would be;
But, ah! when future time advances,
All’s blank to me.

Now twenty years I’ve pack’d behind me,
Since Hope’s deluding tongue inclin’d me
To fuss myself. But, Warbler, mind me,
It’s all a sham;
And twenty more’s as like to find me
                      Just as I am.

I’m poor enough, there’s plenty knows it;
Obscure; how dull, my scribbling shews it:
Then sure ’twas madness to suppose it,
What I was at,
To gain preferment!—there I’ll close it:
            So mum for that.

Let mine, sweet Bird, then be a warning:
Advice, in season, don’t be scorning;
But wait till Spring’s first days are dawning
            To glad and cheer thee;
And then, sweet Minstrel of the morning,
                        I’d wish to hear thee.   

John Clare

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