POETRY IN LOCKDOWN 18


Most of us in lockdown are writing more letters — or rather emails — and perhaps taking more care over them. The other day I wrote one in doggerel verse to my cousins, also under lockdown, in  Italy.  Letters in verse have been written by real poets since at least Roman times, but Horace’s and Ovid’s were never so unselfconscious and disarming as the one John Clare wrote to his brother Robin, away from home on some unspecified business, and dearly missed.

Country Letter
by John Clare

Dear brother robin this comes from us all
With our dear love and could Gip write and all
Though but a dog he’d have his love to spare
For still he knows and by your corner chair
The moment he comes in he lyes him down
And seems to fancy you are in the town.
This leaves us well in health thank God for that
For old acquaintance Sue has kept your hat
Which mother brushes ere she lays it bye
and every Sunday goes upstairs to cry
Jane still is yours till you come back agen
And neer so much as dances with the men
And ned the woodman every week comes in
And asks about you kindly as our kin
And he with this and goody Thompson sends
Remembrances with those of all our friends
Father with us sends love untill he hears
And mother she has nothing but her tears
Yet wishes you like us in health the same
And longs to see a letter with your name
So loving brother dont forget to write
Old Gip lies on the hearth stone every night
Mother cant bear to turn him out of doors
And never noises now of dirty floors
Father will laugh but lets her have her way
And Gip for kindness gets a double pay
So Robin write and let us quickly see
You don’t forget old friends no more than we
Nor let my mother have so much to blame
To go three journeys ere your letter came.

Posted on May 4th, 2020

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