Featured Poem: ‘Mist in the Meadows’ by John Clare

This week’s poem has been chosen by Katie Clark, a Get Into Reading project worker, who read it with residents at a local care home for people suffering from dementia. They particularly enjoyed Clare’s evocative descriptions: how the mist “reaks and curdles up / Like fallen clouds”, and that wonderful “rawky creeping smoke”!

We hope you like it too, as we approach the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…

Mist in the Meadows

The evening oer the meadow seems to stoop
More distant lessens the diminished spire
Mist in the hollows reaks and curdles up
Like fallen clouds that spread – and things retire
Less seen and less – the shepherd passes near
And little distant most grotesquely shades
As walking without legs – lost to his knees
As through the rawky creeping smoke he wades
Now half way up the arches disappear
And small the bits of sky that glimmer through
Then trees loose all but tops – I meet the fields
And now indistinctness passes bye
The shepherd all his length is seen again
And further on the village meets the eye

John Clare (1793 – 1864)

2 thoughts on “Featured Poem: ‘Mist in the Meadows’ by John Clare”

  1. Simply beautiful, thank you!

    I recall attending a lecture by Jon Bate, hosted by The Reader, many years ago now. It was the best lecture I have ever attended, more like a memoir, as if Bate were speaking of a familiar friend.

    If anyone out there hasn’t read it please read Jon Bate’s brilliant biography of Clare, it’s a superb work on a unique poet.

  2. I have a version of this poem in ‘Clare’ (New Oxford English Series) where the 11th and 12th lines read;

    Then trees loose all but tops-while fields remain

    As wont-the indistinctness passes bye…

    I know that there are difficulties with some of the original texts but the version that I have, edited by Eric Robinson and Geoffrey Summerfield, would appear to rely on learned authority.

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