That Great Trifle…

…..Puzzling the power of that great trifle man who finds no reason to be proud at all.

I have always been intrigued by the idea of John Clare, not least because he was a countryman and I have always had a romantic streak. Clare, born in Northamptonshire, has links local to us here in the area of Epping Forest as he spent four years at Dr Matthew Allen’s Asylum as a  patient before discharging himself and walking back to Northamptonshire. Another person with connections to High beech and the Asylum was Alfred, Lord, Tennyson who lived in the area for a time.

John Clare

by William Hilton
oil on canvas, 1820

Commissioned by his publisher John Taylor

‘What life in the eyes! What ardent thirst for excellence, and what flexibility and susceptibility to the outward impression in the quivering lips !’ (an art critic on this portrait)

The idea of this  countryman, son of a farm labourer, who attended a dame school from age 5 to 7 and then another local school, wandering the fields and woods and becoming intimate with them and writing his poems and biblical paraphrases has often appealed to me.

Today I heard a quotation from a work that struck me as very apposite considering the state we have made of this world. I will not call it “This world of ours” as we share it (that appears a strange idea) with so many other species.

In Swordy Well he describes man(kind) as a great trifle, a nice description don’t you think?. A species that has no reason to be proud. Considering all the damage that we have done and continue to do I think he shewed great perspicacity, do not you?

Swordy Well

I’ve loved thee Swordy Well and love thee still
Long was I with thee tending sheep and cow
In boyhood ramping up each steepy hill
To play at ‘roly poly’ down – and now
A man I trifle o’er thee cares to kill
Haunting thy mossy steeps to botanize
And hunt the orchis tribes where nature’s skill
Doth like my thoughts run into phantasys
Spider and Bee all mimicking at will
Displaying powers that fools the proudly wise
Showing the wonders of great nature’s plan
In trifles insignificant and small
Puzzling the power of that great trifle man
Who finds no reason to be proud at all.

In his poem Clare speaks of  “the orchis tribes”, specifically the Spider and the Bee Orchids.

Spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes)

Bee orchid(Ophrys apifera)

This is an amazing picture which shows the dual pollonia, the thing that this game of mimicry is a all about.


2 Responses to “That Great Trifle…”

  1. Conrad Says:

    Marvelous post. Nature’s quiet power wrapped in gentle beauty.

  2. Grannymar Says:

    I love the poem and the last picture looks just like a Bee!

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