The Dying Child

John E Marks
2 min readSep 28, 2022

Written by John Clare (13 July 1793–20 May 1864) who was an English poet. The son of a farm labourer, he became known for his celebrations of the English countryside. He is one of my favourite poets but this poem is hard for me to read.

Photo by Zosia Korcz on Unsplash

BY 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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John E Marks

I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can