In Memory of John Clare, Fen Poet
By Leona Graham
On watching David Dimbleby’s A Picture of Britain: The Flatlands
I’ve hardly read you
But all round me I read through you
Through your despair and joy
I have seen enough to know
A Man of High Heart.
If I had been in your village
When you walked those eighty miles home
To homelessness, away from madness
Seeking respite, I hope I would have
Opened my door and welcomed you in.
Our sky-wide landscape is not for the faint-hearted
Or the unwary, one must choose the right road
And watch the ditch-folds well when night falls
Follow the owls to perch, predators
Fetching home food and succour.
If I read you deeply I will weep well
For the loss of freedoms still out of reach,
Taken from us or never ours to cherish.
You were robust in our defence.
Today perchance we’d do a battle dance
In front of the cameras—your voice
Would stream forth across the peaty soil
And the enclosures would be undone.
We would wake to hope when fen sunlight
Walks long through morn and eventide.
May our souls turn in their eternal rounds
So you can see through time to us and ours.