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The Midsummer Cushion
Edited by Anne Tibble
ISBN: 978 0 856359 40 8
Categories: 19th Century
Published: July 1996
198 x 130 x 31 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Hardback
Clare records that it was 'a very old custom among villagers in summer time to stock a piece of greensward full of field flowers & place it a an ornament in their cottages which ornaments are called Midsummer Cushions'. This 'cottage custom' suggested the title to him for this collection.
The text of the poems has been prepared from Clare's own fair-copy in Peterborough Museum (MS A54), and is, as far as possible, an exact transcription of his own punctuation and spelling. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the reader is able to get back to the authentic voice of Clare.
Here, for the first time, is the book which John Clare himself wanted to publish in 1832, but for which he could not find a sufficient number of subscribers. It is an irony which Clare would have appreciated that it took almost 150 years to bring out the book. Almost a third of the book's 361 poems are now published for the first time.
We should now be in a position to give Clare the recognition he desired - not as a peasant phenomenon - but as our foremost naturalist poet in the tradition of 'national' poetry in which the English countryside is rendered with almost obsessive accuracy.
Table of Contents
THE MIDSUMMER CUSION
To the Rural Muse
Ballads & Song
Index of Titles and First Lines
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