After Reading in a Letter Proposals for Building a Cottage
Beside a runnel build my shed,
With stubbles covered o'er;
Let broad oaks o'er its chimney spread,
And grass-plats grace the door.
The door may open with a string,
So that it closes tight;
And locks would be a wanted thing,
To keep out thieves at night.
A little garden, not too fine,
Inclose with painted pales;
And woodbines, round the cot to twine,
Pin to the wall with nails.
Let hazels grow, and spindling sedge,
Bend bowering over-head;
Dig old man's beard from woodland hedge,
To twine a summer shade.
Beside the threshold sods provide,
And build a summer seat;
Plant sweet-briar bushes by its side,
And flowers that blossom sweet.
I love the sparrow's ways to watch,
Upon the cotter's sheds;
So here and there pull out the thatch,
That they may hide their heads.
And as the sweeping swallows stop,
Their flights along the green;
Leave holes within the chimney-top,
To paste their nest between.
Stick shelves and cupboards round the hut,
In all the holes and nooks;
Nor in the corner fail to put,
A cupboard for the books.
Along the floor some sand I'll shift,
To make it fit to live in;
And then I'll thank ye for the gift,
As something worth the giving.
John Clare 1793 - 1864
I wander through the woodland;
Peace to you days a-dying,
I tune a song the trees among;
But oft-times comes a-crying.
I know more than Apollo;
For oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at mortal wars;
And the rounded welkin weeping
The morn's my constant mistress;
The lovely owl my morrow
The flaming drake and the night crow make;
Me music to my sorrow
With a heart of furious fancies;
Where-of I am commander
With a burning spear and a horse of air;
To the wilderness I wander
With a knight of ghosts and shadows;
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wideworld's end;
Me thinks it is no journey.
Adapted from "Wit and Drollery" 1661,
Set to music by Sir Edward Elgar
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
G K Chesterton 1874 - 1936
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth,
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung,
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941