Steve McCaffrey reads “Signs of Winter” by John Clare

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In this installment, Steve McCaffrey reads “Signs of Winter” by John Clare. Experimental Canadian poet Steve McCaffrey is the author of over a dozen volumes of poetry and has twice received the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative American Poetry.  He was one of the co-founders of the Toronto Research Group and is also the author or editor of several important books of criticism, including Rational Geomancy: The Kids of the Book Machine, North of Intention, and Prior to Meaning.

John Clare, "Signs of Winter"

Tis winter plain the images around
Protentious tell us of the closing year
Short grows the stupid day  the moping fowl
Go roost at noon—upon the mossy barn
The thatcher hangs and lays the frequent yaum
Nudged close to stop the rain that drizzling falls
With scarce one interval of sunny sky
For weeks still leeking on that sulky gloom
Muggy and close a doubt twixt night and day
The sparrow rarely chirps the thresher pale
Twanks with sharp measured raps the weary frail
Thump after thump right tiresome to the ear
The hedger lonesome brustles at his toil
And shepherds trudge the fields without a song
The cat runs races with her tail—the dog
Leaps oer the orchard hedge and knarls the grass
The swine run round and grunt and play with straw
Snatching out hasty mouthfuls from the snack
Sudden upon the elm tree tops the crows
Uncerimonious visit pays and croaks
Then swops away—from mossy barn the owl
Bobs hasty out—wheels round and scared as soon
As hastily retires—the ducks grow wild
And from the muddy pond fly up and wheel
A circle round the village and soon tired
Plunge in the pond again—the maids in haste
Snatch from the orchard hedge the mizled cloaths
And laughing hurry in to keep them dry

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Poets on Poets