Summer Pleasures They Are Gone …

A little later than usual, a poem for September. 

This rather chose itself.  When I was at the Chesterfield Festival the other week, fielding in front of me on the boundary was Jon Clare, the promising Burnley-born Derbyshire all-rounder.  In September’s issue of The Cricketer, which I happened to be reading at the time, there was an article about Frank Foster, based on the recently published biography by Robert Brooke, entitled The Fields Were Sudden Bare (a line from Remembrances, by John Clare).

Foster captained Warwickshire to their first Championship victory in 1911, but later succumbed to mental illness and died in St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton, where, in its previous guise as the County General Lunatic Asylum, Clare had also spent his last years.

This is the first verse of the poem (which is mainly concerned with mourning the consequences of the enclosure of common land, and nothing to do with cricket at all).

.

 Remembrances

Summer pleasures they are gone like to visions every one
And the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on
I tried to call them back but unbidden they are gone
Far away from heart and eye and for ever far away
Dear heart and can it be that such raptures meet decay
I thought them all eternal when by Langley Bush I lay
I thought them joys eternal when I used to shout and play
On its bank at ‘clink and bandy’ ‘chock’ and ‘taw’ and
ducking stone
Where silence sitteth now on the wild heath as her own
Like a ruin of the past all alone.

 

As an illustration of summer pleasures going and almost gone like to visions, here are two snaps of the closing stages of last Sunday’s County Cup final at Grace Road, between Market Harborough and Loughborough (the match of the season, really) …

The first shows Harborough’s Nick O’Donnell facing the last ball from Leicestershire Academy man Tom Wells (as the shadows lengthen), needing 2 to tie the scores and win on the basis of one fewer wicket lost …

    

and, shortly afterwards, two leg byes having been scrambled, the presentation ceremony …

 

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2 thoughts on “Summer Pleasures They Are Gone …

  1. What an incredibly heart-rending and evocative poem. I looked up the whole thing;how can you not love a man who writes of “little mouldywarps hang sweeing to the wind”. I must read more Clare.

  2. My Grandfather had a great pal who was the Head Gamekeeper at Boughton House, who we used to visit sometimes. He had a barbed wire fence around his cottage and used to hang all the “vermin” he’d shot on it. I could just about see the point of doing this with crows, magpies and so on (pour encourager les autres, presumably) but it always struck me as bizarrely vindictive to do it with moles, given that – even if they happened to be above ground – they’d be too short sighted to see their fallen comrades.

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