John Clare of Helpston by Janet Dowse
Our modern pressures of celebrity
He also felt two hundred years ago.
Born in obscurity and poverty
At Fenland's edge where seasons' pace is slow.
In tune with all the rhythms of the life
That in the fields and woods and streams abounds;
In village home, he captured joys and strife
Of shepherds' lot, and traced the daily rounds
Of toil at plough, in dairy and at mill.
But though his verse earned riches and brought fame,
The "ploughman poet" loved the village still,
Until the fickle crowds forgot his name.
Tossed him aside in search of newer prey
And madness claimed him till his dying day.
Janet Dowse, born in Liverpool now lives in Bourne, Lincolnshire.
Janet ws Head of English at Bourne Grammar School for nearly 30 years and wrote this sonnet after a visit to the John Clare Cottage.