1st August 2016
JUST received from the printers the first copies of my new Clare paperback "Hidden Treasures", and they now are avalable from me at £6 + £1.50 postage and packing (UK). Not sure how much the postage would be to other parts of the world, but I'm sure I can let you know. They will also be available from Amazon in a day or two.
From the back-cover introduction: "John Clare was an inveterate scribbler whom, because of his poverty, was forced to write upon whatever came to hand, using ink, pencil or an ink concoction he created himself. Within the Peterborough Archives many of these scraps can be seen: newspaper and parcel labels, old bills, prospectus pages for future books, old account ledgers, as well as exercise books and loose pages ... "
The collection even contains two 'radical' poems I encountered for the first time in the Archives in late June 2016, together with poems and prose Professor Eric Robinson and I have been accumulating for some years.
"Hidden Treasures" has / have arrived ! Thank you, Roger. I thought I'd skim it, to read properly later. But I couldn't put it down. There are lines and images that may well be familiar. However, I find the selection so fresh and newly thought-provoking. So many images just brought me up short. The shepherd boys "ankle deep in grass" who " print their wild tracks till the dews are gone". Brilliant !
Then, in "Solitude" ( which I read as a "walking poem"" ) there are so many wonderful observations and one made me realise again the range of John Clare's imagination. It encompasses so much. Early on in the poem, the speaker pauses and thinks on "... nature's spells // From the silt picks out the shells ". Is he contemplating geological age ? Mentioning shepherds, made me realise that if there is anything about modern farming that still connects with Clare's time, it is shepherding, especially at lambing time.
Reading " Content thy home be mine" was extraordinary at this time, when we have just been reading about the execrable misuse [again] of the Honours system. Uncanny !
"I went to see her" I found unbearably beautiful. It could have been mawkish and sentimental, but it isn't; it's so honest and true.
So much to enjoy. I hope that "Hidden Treasures" reaches a very wide readership.
What a beautiful read. Thank you so much Roger for the collection of poetry and prose. I was taken to a far away land with the words of Clare - again!