Poetry Corner….. ‘The Last of April’, a sonnet by John Clare

Poetry Corner is edited by Freddie Day, Poetry Enthusiast, Free Spirit, Chain Smoker and erstwhile Wine Correspondent.


My dear friends,
As the drama of April begins a second act towards decline, I find I become most melancholic over the rapid decline in a landscape only briefly filled with glorious springtime colours.

Daffodils fade from bright smiles to ghostly figures. Blossom petals dance away as clouds in the breeze. Whilst the Primrose banks close-down, retreating from summers advance, my delight and thrill in the energy of springtime fades too.

I tell myself that there are days full of sunshine and warmth to come, but that is hardly consolation for the loss and passing of a month so eagerly anticipated throughout the gloom of winter.

Should you find yourself in the same predicament, I urge to towards the writings of a hero of mine, John Clare; A writer of beautiful words, a man able to capture England’s green and pleasant land simply and exactly. He will, I hope, lift your spirits.

John Clare

Whatever my mood Mr Clare has a poem or a sonnet to match.  I urge you to seek him out and enjoy his lines. Indeed I often find myself turning to him as the season changes.

The poet John Clare, lived for most of his life in rural Northamptonshire. He was born in 1793 in the village of Helpston half way between Peterborough and Stamford, on the brink of the Lincolnshire Fens.

‘Clare’s truthfulness to the individual locality he wanted to describe would not permit him to use the conventional literary language of his predecessors, and he had instead to find his own language. His success in doing this removed him from the mainstream of English poetry’* .

Here, in a sonnet written in 1821, he expounds his anguish at the passing of April. I share it with you today to prepare you for the end of springtime. In  ‘The Last of April’, his soft and gentle lines capture the beauty of the month and perfectly describes its passing:

The Last of April

Old April wanes, and her last dewy morn

Her death-bed steeps in tears: to hail the May

New blooming blossoms ‘neath the sun are born,

And all poor April’s charms are swept away.

The early primrose, peeping once so gay,

Is now chok’d with many a mounting weed

And the poor violet we once admired

Creeps in the grass unsought for – flowers succeed,

Gaudy and new, and more to be desired,

And of the old the schoolboy seemth tired.

So with us all, poor April, as with thee!

Each hath his day; the future brings my fears:

Friends may grow weary, new flowers rising be,

And my last end, like thine, be steep’d  in tears.

* (The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place – An Approach to the Poetry of John Clare) by John Barrell – 1972

As ever



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