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Autumn Birds
John Clare


The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels* whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening cloud.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.

This poem is in the public domain.

*another name for starlings

John Clare (1793 - 1864) was born to a poor, working class family in England. His life as an uneducated peasant farmer was one of constant struggle and hardships, yet his poetry is wonderfully inspiring. John was a "poetic environmentalist," in awe of the natural world, and nature is the theme of much of his work. His poetic talent earned him access to Londonís literary circles, though his inferior social standing kept him from ever truly joining its ranks. Tragically, John spent the last twenty years of his life in a mental asylum, though he continued to write and produce poetry that some critics laud as some of the 19th centuryís best work. Learn more about John Clarehere.

Post New Comment:
I wonder if "suthy" might be his rendition of "sufi" as in sufi dancing, also known as whirling dervishes, which we can trace back to the poet Rumi in the 13th century.
Posted 11/20/2022 01:54 PM
I have to echo Larrys sermon. The plenty of Clares natural world seems almost quaint now. its hard to ignore that were messing it all up.
Posted 11/20/2022 10:28 AM
Darrell Arnold:
"The wild duck startles like a sudden thought." I love that. It makes me laugh, though. My sudden thoughts often fly away as rapidly as the duck.
Posted 11/20/2022 08:35 AM
Larry Schug:
I appreciate any poems that cast light on the wondrous bird life that shares our existence with us We now most avian species are in trouble and we are to blame. We could be their saviors if we have the will. Sorry for the sermon. Clare's description of how different birds activities are poetically enlightening.
Posted 11/20/2022 07:45 AM

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