The Dying Child

By John Clare 1793–1864 John Clare
He could not die when trees were green,
         For he loved the time too well.
His little hands, when flowers were seen,
         Were held for the bluebell,
         As he was carried o'er the green.

His eye glanced at the white-nosed bee;
         He knew those children of the spring:
When he was well and on the lea
         He held one in his hands to sing,
         Which filled his heart with glee.

Infants, the children of the spring!
         How can an infant die
When butterflies are on the wing,
         Green grass, and such a sky?
         How can they die at spring?

He held his hands for daisies white,
         And then for violets blue,
And took them all to bed at night
         That in the green fields grew,
         As childhood's sweet delight.

And then he shut his little eyes,
         And flowers would notice not;
Birds' nests and eggs caused no surprise,
         He now no blossoms got;
         They met with plaintive sighs.

When winter came and blasts did sigh,
         And bare were plain and tree,
As he for ease in bed did lie
         His soul seemed with the free,
         He died so quietly.

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Poet John Clare 1793–1864

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Spring, Living, Nature, Infancy, Sorrow & Grieving, Trees & Flowers, Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

 John  Clare

Biography

John Clare was born into a peasant family in Helpston, England. Although he was the son of illiterate parents, Clare received some formal schooling. While earning money through such manual labor as ploughing and threshing, he published several volumes of poetry, including Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery. After suffering from delusions, Clare was admitted to an insane asylum where he spent the final 20 years of his life.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Spring, Living, Nature, Infancy, Sorrow & Grieving, Trees & Flowers, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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