John Clare: The Temple of Minerva

The Temple of Minerva by John Clare.


The ruin of a ruin – man of mirth

Pause o’er the past and immediate decay

The very stones are perishing to earth

Foundations though all’s left will waste away

Time’s chissel on what’s left still writes ‘Decay’

Which every season wrecks and wears away


A shadow it was present – but ’tis past

Time sickened and life’s nature met decay

Convulsive winds seemed sobbing out their last

When ruin’s piecemeal Temple passed away

The very stones like clay dissolving lye

And solitude half-fearing learns to sigh


See’st thou the steps of yesterday

The night before the last

See’st thou when darkness went away

And daylight winnowed past

The present is – and shadows are

What was so very bright and fair


Spring meadow-flowers was suns and joy

Of present happiness

But when the summer filled the sky

All was another dress

They changed to seed among the hay

And dyed when summer went away


Now evening rosey streaks – a ribboned sky

Spreads in the golden light of the far West

And mighty rocks are pillowed dark and high

The image and the prototype of rest

The heavens’ prophesy where peace is blest

A stillness soft as fall of silent dews

Is felt around – the very dusk looks blest

As is the maiden while her heart pursues

Her evening walk o’er fields in silent dews

Ave Maria, tis the hour of love

When sighs and pains and tears on beauty’s breast

Are whispered into blessings from above

Ave Maria, tis the hour of rest

For man and woman and the weary beast

And parents love the minature delights

That blesses all with sleep and quiet rest

Ave Maria, tis the hour of night

Like to an Indian Maiden dressed in white

The winter-time is over love

Whitethorns begin to bud

And brown and green of freshness love

Enlivens all the wood

There’s white clouds got agen the sun

One daisy open in the green

The primrose shows its sulphur bud

Just where the hazel stulps are seen

And ere the April time is out

Along the riding’s gravel walk

The bedlam’s primrose blooms about

Wi’ twenty blossoms on a stalk

How happy seems the drop of dew

That nestles in the daisey’s eye

How blest the cloud seems in the blue

That near the sun appears to lie

How happy does thy shadows seem

That stretches o’er the morning grass

They seems to walk as in a dream

I know their shadows as they pass . . .

(John Clare


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