The Maiden I Love, by John Clare

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Au Bord du Ruisseau
William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Au Bord du Ruisseau (1875) – from Art Renewal Center

Asylum Poems, the fabulous collection of verses written by John Clare when he was interned in an lunatic asylum, is a real treasure full of beautiful love poems. I give here a charming one, devoted to a young beauty seen walking among the wild flowers of the mountain.

The Maiden I Love.

How sweet are Spring wild flowers! They grow past the counting.
How sweet are the wood-paths that thread through the grove!
But sweeter than all the wild flowers of the mountain
Is the beauty that walks here—the maiden I love.
Her black hair in tangles
The rose briar mangles;
Her lips and soft cheeks,
Where love ever speaks:
O there’s nothing so sweet as the maiden I love.

It was down in the wild flowers, among brakes and brambles,
I met the sweet maiden so dear to my eye,
In one of my Sunday morn midsummer rambles,
Among the sweet wild blossoms blooming close by.
Her hair it was coal black,
Hung loose down her back;
In her hand she held posies
Of blooming primroses,
The maiden who passed on the morning of love.

Coal black was her silk hair that shaded white shoulders;
Ruby red were her ripe lips, her cheeks of soft hue;
Her sweet smiles, enchanting the eyes of beholders,
Thrilled my heart as she rambled the wild blossoms through.
Like the pearl, her bright eye;
In trembling delight I
Kissed her cheek, like a rose
In its gentlest repose.
O there’s nothing so sweet as the maiden I love!

Source: Life and Remains of John Clare, The “Northamptonshire Peasant Poet” by John Clare, edited by J. L. Cherry, London: Frederick Warne & Co. (1873), digitised on Internet Archive. The poem is page 176. See also the hypertext transcription as a Project Gutenberg ebook.

Previously published on Agapeta, 2016/05/17.

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