Oyster Boy Review 11  
  April 1999
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Jonquil Airs

David Preece


John the Revelator

John Clare standing on Clifford Hill
on Mam Tor
at Avebury
singing here every tree is strange to me

John Clare roaming by Langley Bush
walking through shantytown with a ratchet at his waist
all levelled like a desert
all banished like the sun

John Clare straying on Cowper Green
through the saltmarshes
through the cornbelt
blue mist the horizon's edge surrounds

John Clare and John Dee
at Tower Hill
on the orbital
drum'n' bass on the stereo
pains like plagues pursue them

John Clare runs the voodoo down
out in the Carolinas
on the banks of the Nene
the rice all gone now, long choked by reeds
mosquitoes singing the long day through
as they work this lonesome water

John Clare singing get on up stay on the scene
singing how does it feel to be on your own
singing the boughs did bend the leaves did shake
singing who's that ridin' John the Revelator
singing I'm so pretty you're so pretty

Johnny singing songs I've heard and felt and seen
said live and be and they have been forever

"Wood Pictures in Winter"

the bullrush that the tide leaves
melodies. lullabies which wind now stems
hare soft

masaoka shiki at barnack

pale sun beams gleam
on white thorn bushes
in the leaf strewn hedge

wild bees

sweet poets
of the summer fields


mushroom top sailing boat

two variants on "Winter"

in a snowstorm
dithering and sorrowing
huddled, she inspired rapture
in the sunbeam returning

january comes hasty
his timid train huddled to the troubled fury
the blackest spring

fear's tiny shadows


edgar allan poe in salcey forest

fear flowers on the barren roads
in leaf darkened woods
and its green nigh


a landscape heard and felt and seen
live there a whole life one summer's day

"Emmonsails Heath in Winter"

withered with heron and crow
the trunk, the blackthorn
field and hedgerows again

john clare's blessing

build on nothing but a passing cloud
lie safely with the leveret in the corn

a last variant on "Winter"

the snowstorm storms
in the troubled sky
in the blackest cloud a sunbeam


Johnny in the Low Ground

John      back on the streets      off the medication
high on redemption      hearing songs he'd heard
and felt and seen      living his whole life through
each day      day on day      prayer on prayer      penny
on penny      blessing on blessing      dog end on dog
end      back from Essex      to the banks of the Nene
back to Mary Jane      in her bridal shroud      back
to life      back to reality

Source material from the writings of John Clare:
b. 1793 Helpston, Northamptonshire,
d. 1864 Northampton General Lunatic Asylum.