In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to the most important poets in our literature.
The birds are gone to bed; the cows are still,
And sheep lie panting on each old mole hill,
And underneath the willow's grey-green bough --
Like toil a resting -- lies the fallow plough.
-- Hares at Play
John Clare (1793-1864), the 'peasant poet', worked as an agricultural labourer in Northamptonshire until a deterioration in his mental health saw him committed to an insane asylum. He published four volumes of verse, including Poems, Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820), and The Shepherd's Calendar (1827).