Walking in the shoes of the Green Man by Maggie Barker

Generations change and your countryside more
But your words live on as I walk the same shaded summer lanes
As you did then, slowly  time fades taking me back to how it was before
And I marvel at the beauty in your life, and the pains.

Over by the fields to Glinton I imagine you at school, there when you could
On days devoid of labour even as a child  you lay in grasses deep and watched larks soar
By the crumbling stone bridge I felt longing and a shadow where you and faithful Mary stood
Both of you young and unaware that generations change and your countryside more.

They closed it in and broke your heart gentle man – money over nature as it is now
You would laugh at the hedgerow endangered now while insect and flower still remains
People looked at you in scorn with more mouths to feed than just writing would allow
But your words live on as I walk the same shaded summer lanes.

Fleetingly your poems were quaint but the city didn’t see Green Man’s rural sense as wealth
Their life took your eye off home awhile despite Keats’ scoff at your unromantic Nymph-less lore
You returned to obscurity and  lost your home, little wonder followed decline and ill health
Sadly I inhale the Green Man’s view as you did then, slowly time taking me back to how it was before.

Past bulging fields with daises, wild heads held high contrasting drooping petaled poppies bleeding red
Gently singing ‘ Clock a Clay’ as your big sky clouds, day darkens and summons summer rains
I grieve for your sensitivity and that time was short,  with open path often not yours to tread
But still in the wet and cold your words remain and I marvel at the beauty in your life, and the pains.



Maggie Barker lives in north Peterborough and regularly walk with my dog around Clare country. Her passion for John Clare’s work started as a teenager 380 miles away in Scotland, singing ‘Clock-a-Clay ’ in school competition and studying the glorious ‘ I am ’ for O-Grade English. Consequently the sheer delight of walking in his footsteps never escapes her.

Maggie is new to poetry writing –her first encounter with this genre came recently when I attended a fantastic poetry workshop at John Clare Cottage run by Peter Cox. A big thank you to all concerned for putting this wonderful event on.