The Mores

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Oct 25 01:11:15 BST 2000

Re-read this tonight - thought i'd share it wiv yuz


Far spread the moorey ground a level scene  
Bespread with rush and one eternal green  
That never felt the rage of blundering plough  
Though centurys wreathed spring's blossoms on its brow
Still meeting plains that stretched them far away  
In uncheckt shadows of green brown, and grey

Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene  
Nor fence of ownership crept in between  
To hide the prospect of the following eye  
Its only bondage was the circling sky

One mighty flat undwarfed by bush and tree  
Spread its faint shadow of immensity  
And lost itself, which seemed to eke its bounds  
In the blue mist the horizon's edge surrounds

Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours  
Free as spring clouds and wild as summer flowers  
Is faded all - a hope that blossomed free,  
And hath been once, no more shall ever be

Inclosure came and trampled on the grave  
Of labour's rights and left the poor a slave  
And memory's pride ere want to wealth did bow  
Is both the shadow and the substance now

The sheep and cows were free to range as then  
Where change might prompt nor felt the bonds of men  
Cows went and came, with evening morn and night,  
To the wild pasture as their common right

And sheep, unfolded with the rising sun  
Heard the swains shout and felt their freedom won  
Tracked the red fallow field and heath and plain  
Then met the brook and drank and roamed again

The brook that dribbled on as clear as glass  
Beneath the roots they hid among the grass  
While the glad shepherd traced their tracks along  
Free as the lark and happy as her song

But now all's fled and flats of many a dye  
That seemed to lengthen with the following eye 

Moors, loosing from the sight, far, smooth, and blea 
Where swopt the plover in its pleasure free  
Are vanished now with commons wild and gay  
As poet's visions of life's early day

Mulberry-bushes where the boy would run  
To fill his hands with fruit are grubbed and done  
And hedgrow-briars - flower-lovers overjoyed  
Came and got flower-pots - these are all destroyed

And sky-bound mores in mangled garbs are left  
Like mighty giants of their limbs bereft

Fence now meets fence in owners' little bounds  
Of field and meadow large as garden grounds  
In little parcels little minds to please  
With men and flocks imprisoned, ill at ease

Each little path that led its pleasant way  
As sweet as morning leading night astray  
Where little flowers bloomed round a varied host  
That travel felt delighted to be lost

Nor grudged the steps that he had ta-en as vain  
When right roads traced his journeys and again -  
Nay, on a broken tree he'd sit awhile  
To see the mores and fields and meadows smile

Sometimes with cowslaps smothered - then all white  
With daiseys - then the summer's splendid sight  
Of cornfields crimson o'er the headache bloomd  
Like splendid armys for the battle plumed

He gazed upon them with wild fancy's eye  
As fallen landscapes from an evening sky

These paths are stopt - the rude philistine's thrall  
Is laid upon them and destroyed them all
Each little tyrant with his little sign  
Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine

But paths to freedom and to childhood dear  
A board sticks up to notice 'no road here'
And on the tree with ivy overhung  
The hated sign by vulgar taste is hung  

As tho' the very birds should learn to know  
When they go there they must no further go

Thus, with the poor, scared freedom bade goodbye  
And much they feel it in the smothered sigh  
And birds and trees and flowers without a name  
All sighed when lawless law's enclosure came

And dreams of plunder in such rebel schemes  
Have found too truly that they were but dreams.

John Clare 1793-1864

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