Everywhere the world is filled with the whispered spring. The first of this year’s lambs scamper and nuzzle in the field above us and skylarks sing high from under a bowl of Wedgewood blue. A softer, warmer wind blows, and the sun is strong. Humans and non-humans alike emerge to drink in the sunlight and warmth. It’s a spring that the poet John Clare knew well and understood its significance and it’s a spring from which Edward Thomas drew strength. Tonight, the stars of frost garland NB 506812, but we have felt once more the reassuring cycle of seasons and an assurance that spring is on the way.
“24th February, Wednesday.
The wind was warm and playful today, boisterously rolling down the hill.
Earlier the cormorant hung piratical to the thrashing, Jolly Rogered branches of the oak.
Later, the Pillerton rooks wheeled and played upon the air; carelessly flung, like heraldic emblems, across the perilous sky.”
In this episode I read excerpts from John Clare’s (1820) The Shepherd’s Calendar. The text to ‘February’ can be read here - Poem Hunter: The Shepherd’s Calendar - February - A Thaw.
If you want to find out more about this important, but often overlooked, figure, you can read more about his life and works as the John Clare Society.
I also refer to and read a short passage from Edward Thomas’ (1914) In Pursuit of Spring. A free (open access) copy can be found on the Project Guttenberg site which incidentally features a rather lovely picture of two narrowboats on the Paddington canal as a frontispiece - Edward Thomas: In Pursuit of Spring.
In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at archive.org.
Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded toFreesound.org on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence.
Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.
All other audio recorded on site.
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