This looks interesting. I'm not, I'd have to say, a big fan of Farley's, although I'm basing that mainly on The Boy From The Chemist... and a few poems in mags and newspapers, but I do like a lot of John Clare's work. Plus, there are few enough poetry events going on around Leicester and Peterborough, so it'd be a shame not to go along. I'll get a ticket on the way home.
Clare spent much of his life close to Peterborough, where I'm writing this. In fact, if you went across the retail park next to the office, through a housing estate and on across the fields, you'd come to Emmonsails (now Ailsworth) Heath, subject of this lovely poem.
Emmonsails Heath In Winter
I love to see the old heath's withered brake
Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling
While the old heron from the lonely lake
Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wing,
And oddling crow in idle motion swing
On the half-rotten ash tree's topmost twig,
Besides whose trunk the gipsy makes his bed.
Up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig
Where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread,
The fieldfare chatter in the whistling thorn
And for the haw round fields and closen rove,
And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again.
It's (perhaps not surprisingly), those last five lines I like best - any birder would, I suppose.
Tomorrow, I'll go through exactly why I like the poem so much.