Last night I went to a wonderful concert at Goldmark’s Gallery in Uppingham. It was an intimate recital by the English Folk singer, Chris Wood. Now before you all slope away groaning at the mention of Folk music, I can assure you that there is a large amount of stunning folk music happening in the UK which has nothing to do with boring old gits with their fingers in their ears, earnestly singing in faux West Country accents.
Chris Wood is an exceptional song writer, a proper modern day minstrel who sings about love, current affairs, politics and vegetable patches. Some of you may also know him through his collaboration with the supergroup The Imagined Village which includes Martin and Eliza Carthy.
Now the reason I’m banging on about him in the Sunday Poem spot is because he reminded us of a poem by the Northamptonshire poet, John Clare. Wood made many interesting comments throughout the evening and he compared the disintegration of Clare’s mental state, as he felt his world being taken from him, to the repressed mourning of the country people whose land had been taken from under them because of The Enclosures. Here is the poem.
Hang on the grass and bushes too;
The sheep more eager bite the grass
Whose moisture gleams like drops of glass;
The heifer licks in grass and dew
That makes her drink and fodder too.
The little bird his morn-song gives,
His breast wet with the dripping leaves,
Then stops abruptly just to fly
And catch the wakened butterfly,
That goes to sleep behind the flowers
Or backs of leaves from dews and showers.
The yellow-hammer, haply blest,
Sits by the dyke upon her nest;
The long grass hides her from the day,
The water keeps the boys away.
The morning sun is round and red
As crimson curtains round a bed,
The dewdrop hangs on barley horns
As beads the necklace thread adorns,
The dewdrops hang wheat-ears upon
Like golden drops against the sun.
Hedge-sparrows in the bush cry ‘tweet’,
O’er nests larks winnow in the wheat,
Till the sun turns gold and gets more high,
And paths are clean and grass gets dry,
And longer shadows pass away.
And brightness is the blaze of day.