Young Spring Lambs, by John Clare (and some older sheep in Little Bowden)

One of the traditional things we associate with Spring – and you may remember that, we had it last week – that I haven’t seen this year so far is lambs.  Not one.  Being an optimistic sort I’d like to think that this is co-incidence, rather than that sheep are becoming extinct.  Here, however, is a snap of another sight I see every morning on my way to the station – a field of sheep.  There used to be two of these, but one of them has been built over to make way for an exclusive development of four to six bedroom houses.  On the whole, I must say I preferred the sheep.

Sheep, early morning, Little Bowden

Their eyes don’t really look like this, incidentally, it’s a clever piece of trick photography on my part.

And here is a poem about Spring lambs by John Clare.  I think it is still a surprising and jarring poem – by the end – and must have seemed very much more so to his contemporaries, used to poems on similar subjects by Collins, Gray or even Wordsworth.  No elevating moral, no conclusion, no overt meaning even.  Just a record of something that he had seen and felt, that felt meaningful at the time to him.

Young Spring Lambs

by John Clare


The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two—till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead—and lets me go
Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.


2 thoughts on “Young Spring Lambs, by John Clare (and some older sheep in Little Bowden)

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