Monday, January 09, 2006


Schoolboys in Winter

John Clare (1793-1864), Schoolboys in Winter:
The schoolboys still their morning ramble take
To neighbouring village school with playing speed,
Loitering with pastime'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 pastimes 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.
Notes by W.H. Auden:

haws: hawthorne berries.
fieldfares: small birds belonging to the thrush family.
sloes: fruit of the black thorn.
glib: slippery, smooth.
clumpsing: benumbed with cold.

I would add:

quake: shiver.
hips: fruit of the dog-rose.

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