Sunday, February 3, 2008

John Clare

February is the neglected month. It’s short. It’s plain, its colors earthy and muted. Its grays and browns seem to be something we have to endure until we get to luscious spring. There’s little going on outside, right? Well not to John Clare (1793-1864). The Englishman is generally referred to as "the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet.” His “Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery,” published in 1820 and works that followed brought notoriety but little money to feed his family that included six children. He died, like many good artists, in an asylum. In addition to poems, Clare wrote prose. To underscore the beauty of the month of February he penned perhaps the longest sentence ever put on paper about the short month. Times were hard; punctuation was is short supply. It’s a sentence Faulknerian in length (over 290 words) that begins: “I always think that this month the prophet of spring brings many beautys to the landscape tho a carless observer woud laugh at me for saying so who believes that it brings nothing because he does not give himself the trouble to see them—I always admire the kindling freshness…”

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