The Clote (Water-Lily)

By William Barnes 1801–1886 William Barnes
O zummer clote! when the brook’s a-glidèn
   So slow an’ smooth down his zedgy bed,
Upon thy broad leaves so seäfe a-ridèn
   The water’s top wi’ thy yollow head,
          By alder sheädes, O,
          An’ bulrush beds, O,
Thou then dost float, goolden zummer clote!

The grey-bough’d withy’s a leänèn lowly
   Above the water thy leaves do hide;
The bènden bulrush, a-swaÿèn slowly,
   Do skirt in zummer thy river’s zide;
          An’ perch in shoals, O,
          Do vill the holes, O,
Where thou dost float, goolden zummer clote!

Oh! when thy brook-drinkèn flow’r’s a-blowèn,
   The burnèn zummer’s a-zettèn in;
The time o’ greenness, the time o’ mowèn,
   When in the häy-vield, wi’ zunburnt skin,
          The vo’k do drink, O,
          Upon the brink, O,
Where thou dost float, goolden zummer clote!

Wi’ eärms a-spreadèn, an’ cheäks a-blowèn,
   How proud wer I when I vu’st could swim
Athirt the deep pleäce where thou bist growèn,
   Wi’ thy long more vrom the bottom dim;
          While cows, knee-high, O,
          In brook, wer nigh, O,
Where thou dost float, goolden zummer clote!

Ov all the brooks drough the meäds a-windèn,
   Ov all the meäds by a river’s brim,
There’s nwone so feäir o’ my own heart’s vindèn
   As where the maïdens do zee thee zwim,
          An’ stan’ to teäke, O,
          Wi’ long-stemm’d reäke, O,
Thy flow’r afloat, goolden zummer clote!

Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

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Poet William Barnes 1801–1886



Subjects Nature, Summer, Trees & Flowers


Multitalented poet and autodidact William Barnes was born in Rushay, Dorset, in southern England. He worked as a clerk and a schoolmaster before earning a bachelor of divinity from Cambridge and becoming an ordained minister in the Church of England. He was a strong supporter of the Dorset dialect. When he died in 1886, his Saturday Review obituary read, “There is no doubt that he is the best pastoral poet we possess, the most . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Summer, Trees & Flowers



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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