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Schoolboys in Winter
John Clare


The schoolboys still their morning ramble take 
To neighboring village school with playing speed, 
Loitering with passtime’s leisure till they quake, 
Oft looking up the wild-geese droves to heed, 
Watching the letters which their journeys make; 
Or plucking haws on which their fieldfares feed, 
And hips and sloes; and on each shallow lake 
Making glib slides, where they like shadows go 
Till some fresh passtimes in their minds awake. 
Then off they start anew and hasty blow 
Their numbed and clumpsing fingers till they glow; 
Then races with their shadows wildly run 
That stride huge giants o’er the shining snow 
In the pale splendour of the winter sun.

This poem is in the public domain.


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 London’s 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 century’s best work. Learn more about John Clare here.


Post New Comment:
ME TOO! and I am glad John stayed true to his peasant upbringing.
Posted 01/18/2012 05:10 PM
Nils Peterson:
I too am a fan of "clumpsing." Wonderful word in a fine poem. "And Jack [the something] blows his nail, And milk comes frozen home in pail." I refuse to look "the something" up hoping that it will come back in the course of the morning.
Posted 01/18/2012 12:13 PM
This is so evocative--and "clumpsing" is a marvellous refresher to the palate.
Posted 01/18/2012 04:33 AM

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