By John Clare


By John Clare

RSPB Guide Animals/Birds Other Writers Skype Visits John Clare

1793 - 1864

From Helpston in rural Northamptonshire, Clare was born in 1793.  He is now regarded as the most important poet of the natural world from Britain. He wrote many poems, essays, journals and letters about love, sex, corruption and politics, environmental and social change, poverty and folk life. Even in his madness, his talents were not diminished. Ronald Blythe, President of the Clare Society sees Clare as "... England's most articulate village voice". Clare died, aged 71, in 1864.

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Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,

And tittering, tottering sideways he ne'er got straight again,

     He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly,

     And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.


Little trotty wagtail, he waddled in the mud,

And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.

     He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,

     And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.


Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,

And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;

     Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-stye,

     So, little Master Wagtail, I'll bid you a good-bye.