Sunday, 1 January 2017

Onward into 2017 ...




To bring in the year of 2017 I have gone back two hundred years to John Clare’s time (1793 – 1864) – he was an English poet, the son of a farm labourer …




… who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside, but with his lamentation of its disruption.



The poem provides a calendar of the country year, in which the various tasks performed by the farm labourer take their appropriate place: ploughing in February, lambing in March, and hay-making in June.  This has changed I think ... as we plant winter wheat and frost hardy varieties ... so we plough in the Autumn and in the Spring. 




Helpston sign outside Clare Cottage

The countryman’s year is also punctuated by celebrations and festivals, such as May Day games, sheep-shearing feasts, Harvest Home and Christmas.




Rooted in popular culture, the poem has many vivid descriptions of the flowers, birds, and beasts of the hedgerow and field, in the first half of the 1800s.



John Clare's birthplace: Helpston,
six miles north of Peterborough
As you can see his great poem of the farming year is a fascinating piece of social history … together with endearing descriptions of life at the start of the industrial revolution, before the landscape becomes scoured by the unsentimental hand of economic advancement.



Only known photo (1862) of
John Clare
I set out the first two lines for each month … with an appropriate image – the subject of which appears within the stanzas … it is a long poem, but with some amazing vocabulary and descriptive phrases – well worth dipping in and out … especially if your creativity belle has disappeared for a short rest and needs reinvigorating


Now this post has got long … but … here be the twelve months …






Feathery Snow Crystals


January
Withering and keen the Winter comes,
While Comfort flies to close-shut rooms,



Waiting for the snow to melt and Spring to come along


February
The snow has left the cottage top;
the thatch-moss grows in brighter green …



Lino cut of horses ploughing
in March

March
March, month of ‘many weathers,’ wildly comes
In hail, and snow, and rain, and threatening hums …




Speckled Thrush - indicative of April

April
Now infant April joins the Spring,
And views the watery sky,








May
Swarthy bees on the grass in May
Come, Queen of Months! In company
With all thy merry minstrelsy:-






Cuckoo in full flight - June
June
Now Summer is in flower, and Nature’s hum
Is never silent round her bounteous bloom;







Old Sarum, Saxon Castle, in July
July
July, the month of Summer’s prime,
Again resumes his busy time;








Wheat, Rye and Barley

August
Harvest approaches with its busy day;
The wheat tans brown, and barley bleaches grey;




Swallowtail - September


September 
Harvest awakes the morning still,
And toil’s rude groups the valleys fill;







Quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley

October
Nature now spreads around, in dreary hue,
A pall to cover all that summer knew;







Stormy November Skies
November 
The landscape sleeps in mist from morn til noon;
And, if the sun looks through, ‘tis with a face




Christmas traditions


December 
Glad Christmas comes, and every hearth
Makes room to give him welcome now,




Here's the link to the John Clare Shepherd's Calendar poem ... 

I've also mentioned him in another post about haymaking ... a typical day at that time ... 





Welcome to us all for 2017 ... I for one need a change up ... so here's to a very happy, blessed, peaceful year full of goodwill ... 




Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

65 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I love the snippets of this work that you gave us. The months are all wrong for here (of course) but the seasonal sentiments are true.
Here's to a hopeful, happy year ahead, with our cups running over with kindness.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I love the first line of November, particularly. And the photos you've chosen are beautiful. Happy New Year :-)

Mike Goad said...

Happy New Year, Hillary! A New Year to look forward to, with 12 interesting months.

Jo said...

Not a poet I ever heard of. No time now but will return to check out the full work. I have never seen a picture of a cuckoo before, how odd.

Right now we are full snow. First time in a couple of years. Happy New Year Hilary, I hope it will be a good one.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Happy New Year everyone ...

@ EC - I couldn't possibly put the whole poem up .. but it's worth having knowledge of ... I know your year is upside down, or we are doing headstands all the time! I do hope our cups runneth over with thoughtfulness and kindness ...

@ Annalisa - many thanks - it was enjoyable matching up the photos to the lines in the poem and to the seasons ... we've had that fog-mist from dawn til dusk recently .. and the sun did shine a spotlight onto the ocean waves - at times.

@ Mike - many thanks ... it will be an interesting year ... I think I'll follow the seasons thought, they are simpler!

@ Jo - I'm not good with poets either ... but he came to light a few years ago - and that link is now in the post - it's shorter! But I do love reading these poems, as they remind us of the simpler life ...

Full snow - we've had some up in Scotland ... but I hope it'll stay away from here!

Thanks so much to you all - good to see you and have very happy 2017s ... cheers Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That covers the seasons well. Happy New Year.

Betsy Brock said...

Oh yes, a positive attitude is so important! I do agree.
Love that Shepherd's Calendar and it totally makes sense. Beautiful cover, too. I love how each season or month has it's timely activities. To everything there is a season!
Happy New Year to you!

Out on the prairie said...

This year has been so mild here, I was covered in mud after a ride the other day on horses. Normally we would be waiting for the ice to clear enough in a few months to ride.Cold is around the corner, so I should be happy not chipping ice away for the animals to drink

Susan Scott said...

Hi Hilary, been thinking of you and hope all is well. A healthy happy and prosperous 2017 to you. I love the snippets, a reminder of the value of simplicity - xx

Botanist said...

Who'd have thought you could turn farming into such poetry? Happy New Year Hilary!

Anabel Marsh said...

Fascinating info as usual! Happy New Year, Hilary.

Denise Covey said...

Happy New Year, Hilary. Fascinating as always. Enjoyed the Farmer's Almanac in poetry. Proves anything can be poetic, or improved with poetry.

Denise :-)

Liz A. said...

As with all such things, I must view that poem through the lens of a different climate. That would be something, though, to write a calendar poem for my neck of the woods. A good thought...

Maria said...

Happy new Year!

October is my favourite from these verses.
So much has been written about John Clare, I wonder what he would of thought about that.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - it's an essential record of life before industrialisation ...

@ Betsy - I'm sure you'd agree. That's a great quote isn't it .. "To each season/month has its special time" ... I love watching each month go along its way ...

@ Steve - you watch the seasons on your prairie ... interesting about the horses and the mud - yes I'd say January is a cold month. Looking forward to following you along ..

@ Susan - I'm sure you've been having a wonderful time down in Plett ... yes a reminder of simplicity of those days past ...

@ Ian - at least we have the record ... from someone who had time to remember and write down the little details ...

@ Anabel - many thanks - each verse tells its story ...

@ Denise - the Farmer's Almanac tells the American story, adapted for the Canadian seasons ... we I think rely on our poets to tell our stories ...

@ Liz - yes it is viewed from our English way of life ... but what a great idea to write up that poem ... for you and perhaps the school - perhaps the kids could get into it?

@ Maria - interesting you enjoyed the October lines ... I think January tells me what life was like when I was growing up ... but yes I wonder what people would think of our take on their lives today ... People have come to realise how good his poetry is ... despite the trials and tribulations of his life ...

Cheers to you all - and have very happy 2017s ... all the best - Hilary

Bob Scotney said...

Happy New Year, Hilary.

I have always been an admirer of Clare's work. My favourite is about the hare.

Karen Walker said...

I think we all need a "change-up," Hilary. Thanks for the poem. It's delightful.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

A lovely start for the year. Thanks so much, Hilary! Looking forward to all your well-written, thoughtful posts in 2017!

Lynn said...

This is such a lovely post, Hilary! I especially love February - my birth month.

Happy New Year, my friend. I'm looking forward to more Positive Letters and inspirational stories in 2017!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Happy 2017 to you, Hilary. I'm looking forward to reading of many more of your travels and adventures. As a farm girl, I appreciate the memories that poem stirs.

cleemckenzie said...

A long and lovely post, Hilary. I love to read literature linked to the cyclic events of our earth. Somehow the words are not only inspiring, but comforting. While most of us have moved away from the rural and agrarian world where we could be in more closely touch with the seasons and the labors they require, it's wonderful to read the experiences from so long ago.

Thanks for starting off the year with poetry, and may 2017 be a wonderful year for you and those you love.

beste barki said...

I love the bees in May. My birthday is in this month.
I wish you a wonderful New Year Hilary. Beste

Paula Kaye said...

Wonderful post with many wonderful snippets. Happy New Year's Hilary!!

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

And doth the New Year, be it welcomed by the thoughts within of the monthly prose.

Here's to you, to all of us, that we realise a year of that goodwill you so desire.

Hugs and hope and thank you.

Gary

Decadent Kane said...

Here's to an amazing new year! And what a great thing to see...a calendar poem...how wonderful. It could inspire blogging titles too for each month depending on what you need to write about through out the year.

~Decadent~
www.decadentkane.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bob – I went off and looked up “The Hare” and it’s another great poem … I think I must see if I can find a collection of Clare’s works.

@ Karen – it’s certainly been a challenging year for me and I’m sure for many – so I need to bring out the new … glad you enjoyed the poem.

@ Elizabeth – many thanks and I so appreciate your support. I think I must read each month’s verses in full … as the year progresses …

@ Lynn – ah ha – February … yes I love January – so our birth month’s ring true.

@ Susan – I agree being brought up nearly as a farm girl ... I can “see” the seasons … so the poem definitely resonates.

@ Lee – so wisely put about our moving away from our planetary cycle … I enjoy thinking back over my life time and those early years where the seasons came and went …

@ Beste – another who picked their birthday month ... May is a lovely one too … buzzing bees with lots of flowers …

@ Paula – many thanks …

@ Gary – I sure hope the New Year with its welcoming thoughts sticks around for the whole year … as I know you do too …

@ DK – thanks for your visit … there’s so much to choose from to write about … but the ideas in these lines would make good blog posts …


Thanks everyone so much – it’s wonderful to see how many of you comment on the poem and poetry … a lesson perhaps for us to read more poetry from years gone by …

Happy New Year and here’s to a wonderful year ahead - Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Happy new year!
Funny, I've been looking 100 years back, as I'm in the middle of reading Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth.

Patsy said...

Great quotes and they show there is something to enjoy every month throughout the year.

I hope 2017 brings you lots of happiness, Hilary.

bazza said...

John Clare was a real people's pot!
I wish you well and hope that 2017 is good to you and I look forward to another year of superb posts......
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabuous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Bish Denham said...

Oh yes, I can tell from just the two lines you've selected that he had a way with words. I particularly liked August.

Happy New Year, Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - many thanks and same to you in sunny Switzerland ... Interesting about Vera Brittain - I most definitely haven't read anything of hers - but she's worth remembering to read at some stage ... thanks for alerting me ...

@ Patsy - yes each of these two lines fronts up a poem, with some verses, for each of the months ...

@ Bazza - John Clare really was a people's poet wasn't he - but he suffered so much through life - it always amazes me how people can cope, yet be so creative too ... those were the times when compassion didn't seem to abound.

@ Bish - I just had to select the first two lines of each month, otherwise I'd still be debating what to put down ... so glad August resonated ...

Happy New Year to one and all .. and I wish you all the very best for 2017 ... cheers Hilary

Joanne said...

Happy New Year! and positive attitude, indeed. All the best to you.
I like this poem presentation - just the first two lines of each month tell the tale. It's funny - if the poor man lived in Texas now, his creativity would be squelched by lack of variety - nine of the months would just say Darn Hot, the others would say Windy. One month might say Ice storm. Take care

Amanda Trought said...

Hilary, Happy New Year to you, your blog is such a great way to start the new year, love the snippets, I feel suitably invigorated! Love it :)

Rhodesia said...

What a great post and some magical quotes. Happy 2017 may it be a healthy year for us all, Diane

Munir said...

The April Bird is beautiful. Also the November skies are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.
Happy New Year to you Hilary. May all your wishes come true. I always enjoy your posts. You take great care to write them and I always learn something new. Thanks for visiting me. I will keep a check on blogger as much as I can. Good Tidings ( as they say in Hindi) and Cheers !

Nilanjana Bose said...

That's the whole of 2017 taken care of! A poet I didn't know of, so thanks for sharing - will be looking him up, the first lines are charming.

Wishing you fulfilling months and may all your goals be achieved in 2017.

DMS said...

The snippets and lines you shared with us really help us to visualize the words. Sounds beautiful! Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year! May 2017 be a wonderful one for you.
~Jess

Rhonda Albom said...

I enjoy the old English used in this poem.

Murees Dupé said...

Happy New Year, Hilary! Wishing you good health and happiness. The poem is lovely. Those years surely sounded busy. But that is the truth about farming.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne – positivity will keep us all going and moving forward. I love the reminder of our monthly year … and Texas would be way too hot for me! Our seasons bring so much change …

@ Amanda – so good to see you – and so glad the post inspired you to start the year off …

@ Diane – I imagine the poem would resonate with you … us English ‘girls’ and our seasonal gardens …

@ Munir – the April thrush is lovely isn’t he … and November skies loom broodingly ahead of winter. Thanks for enjoying the posts and good to see you …

@ Nila – oh I’m so glad you’ll look him up – he wrote some amazing poetry … so English …

@ Jess – yes that’s what I thought … Clare’s words are so descriptive … especially of our country ways of life …

@ Rhonda – the old English is such a delight to read …

@ Murees – yes the poem really does take us through the year describing each month as it comes along …

Thanks everyone – I’m happy you’re enjoying the read … I do hope we all have wonderful 2017s … cheers Hilary

Nicola said...

Happy new year, Hilary!!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

These are treasures. I love April's, probably that is my birth month. Strange how I've always been excited by the first signs of spring. Happy New Year, Hilary. Best to you in 2017!

Jacqui Murray said...

This is glorious, Hilary. I'm writing a historic fiction about time before calendars, trying to think of events that would mark my little group's lives. This is great reminders.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Happy New Year, dear Hilary!

You sure put a lot into this post. I wasn't familiar with this poet, but it's reassuring that his words are as true today as they were centuries ago when he wrote them. There's something comforting about the continuance of things through time, and of the traditions that tie generations together. Especially there in England. You guys have traditions and history out the wazoo. :)

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Happy New Year! Nice way to usher in 2017--I hope it's a good one.

Suzanne Furness said...

A poem to reflect the changes each month, farming is so in tune with the seasons. Some lovely photos to illustrate the words too. Happy New Year, Hilary, I am tackling 2017 with a positive attitude too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nicola - many thanks ...

@ Joylene - aren't they wonderful - I loved the descriptions .. and April's waters gleam in the sky ... but April is a glorious month and I too love Spring ...

@ Jacqui - oh that's great this post has been able to inspire your creativity for your small group's time year ...

@ Susan - let me tell you - each of his verses is long ... so just had to select the first two lines and then post an appropriate photo of the months to come ... I still love that in some places we still follow the seasons ... and yes our traditions and history ... wazoo seems to go well!! Love the thought of dancing around the Maypole quoting traditional ideas and snippets of history ... wazoo, and Wayzgoose from # 3!

@ Holly - good to see you back .. and thank you ...

@ Suzanne - the poem really does tell the tale of farming life all those years ago ... I remember a little of it being similar after the War ...

Cheers everyone - thanks for coming by - and please all have excellent 2017s ... Hilary

Mary Montague Sikes said...

What a lovely welcome to the new year! Happy 2017, Hilary!!!

Crystal Collier said...

"minstrelsy"... I wonder if that word exists because of him, or if it's an older one that he merely used.

Here's to 2017, and the abundance of cheese it brings. =)

Mark Noce said...

Fascinating! Reminds me a lot of Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac writings in Colonial America as well:)

diedre Knight said...

What a beautiful poem! January is my favorite line. I had to grin at "unacknowledged legislators". Happy New Year, Hilary!

Yolanda Renée said...

Beautiful and well imagined too!

I'm looking forward with a positive attitude full of hope!

Happy 2017!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

This is beautiful, Hilary. I love the photos with the poetry. And now I know what wheat, rye and barley grains look like, not to mention the thrush, cuckoo and butterfly. Thanks so much for sharing this inspiration with your followers. All the best in 2017!

mail4rosey said...

Everyone loves December, if not for the weather...for the holiday. :) Happy New Year to you!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hillary
I love that poem. I've lived in three different States. I was born in Nebraska. As a child we gave out 'May" baskets to friends. When I was in the 6th grade around ten years old we moved to Colorado. No one celebrates May Day here. I don't know why. After graduating I moved to Minnesota for ten years and attended college there. My mother was raised in Minnesota so there was a lot of family.

Winter in Minnesota is six long months. But when spring comes it is as green as the pictures of Ireland. Nebraska is just as long. In Colorado due to the jet stream, our winter is interrupted regularly with sunny warm days. No coats needed. There's a thousand miles difference from Minnesota to Colorado and you will drive through Nebraska on the way. Colorado is also further south than either Minnesota or Nebraska.

When I write a story I always take weather into consideration. How soea it affect my characters? Etc.

Thanks for buying my book. I hope you enjoy it.
Nancy

Lynda R Young said...

I love what you did with the months.
Wishing you a wonderful New Year.

Olivia Rose said...

Wow, love the months sentiments. Happy New Year!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Monti – many thanks …

@ Crystal – “minstrelsy” – it came in from the Latin, and then was accepted in the Middle Ages as a word for the travelling gleeman or/and entertainer. Oh yes – here’s to your cheese!

@ Mark – there are many seasonal type poems – good to know about Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac though …

@ Diedre – the January one was so true to the years when I grew up .. while Shelley’s quote of “unacknowledged legislators” just rang a bell for me …

@ Yolande – thanks so much … I was glad I came across the verses …

@ Victoria – many thanks … I think the photos help bring my posts to life – give them a little more to take in. Finding the three grains was so helpful … and the birds …

@ Rosey – yes, most love December … and we all engage with family and friends …

@ Nancy – seasons in the States: well you’ve given me an idea … and as it’s a continent – the weather is usually extreme. We’re lucky with the Gulf Stream – it gives us (usually) our temperate climate. Oh writing and including the weather definitely bring atmosphere into our books …

@ Lynda – many thanks .. it makes for an interesting post and reminds me of the year ahead weatherwise!

@ Olivia – thanks for coming over … it’s good to know you appreciate the first lines ..

Cheers to you all – thanks for visiting – and have a very happy year - Hilary

D Biswas said...

Love the lines on October, Hilary. Thanks for sharing this wonderful poem with us, and once again, wish you a very Happy New Year!

www.damyantiwrites.com

Elsie Amata said...

I love the idea of poems for each month. Of course, I saw July and thought, I could use some that right about now instead of the snow storm we're about to slammed with. *eye roll*

Julie Flanders said...

This is such a beautiful poem and I love how you've arranged it. I love the changing seasons so this was just perfect.
Happy 2017 to you, Hilary!!

Gattina said...

Such a beautiful poem describing so well each months. Finally it's not so bad to have seasons, which some other countries don't have !

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Damyanti - yes October does come around and shut the summer out ... but the poem is so well written to the English seasons ...

@ Elsie - oh sun and warmth ... but snow storms - no thanks ... I'll leave that with you ...

@ Julie - thanks .. I couldn't possibly put up all the verses, or for that matter all the months .. so a couple of lines made sense and they show the coming seasons ...

@ Gattina - thank you ... yes I enjoy our seasons - at least we see the changes ...

Cheers to you four .. good luck with the snow Elsie ... here we have frost and blue skies ... Happy New Years - Hilary

Robert Bennett said...

This is bugging me. I've heard this before. Seen it somewhere. But can't remember where.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robert - they're talking a lot more about John Clare - his 'take' on English country life 200 years ago is now finally being recognised ... but I only posted the first two lines of each month ... so lots more to read ..

Cheers Hilary