— VOTF10 The Sun Looks Pale Upon the Wall

General Remarks

  • The  narrator is John Clare, “The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet” (1793-1864). Like Alan Moore, Clare came from a poor, working-class background, yet achieved fame through his writing. Unlike Moore, Clare went quite mad, spending most of his later life in insane asylums.
    1844 portrait of Clare
  • The date given is “AD 1841”, 136 years after the previous chapter.
    • On July 20 of 1841, Clare absconded from an asylum in Essex and walked over 90 miles to his family home, arriving July 23. His wife attempted to keep him home, hoping that his mental condition had improved …
    • Much of this chapter (both style and content) is based upon Clare’s “Journal” of his walk, written a few months before the setting of this chapter. (A version of the Journal is available online in Martin’s 1865 biography Life of Clare, albeit with cleaned-up spelling and grammar. Many other editors of Clare’s work did such editing, which is why some of the quoted material in these notes is more conventionally punctuated.)
  • The indicated map location is Saint Andrews Hospital.


  • “Novr 17” – This was, in fact, a Wednesday in 1841.
  • “Patty” – Martha “Patty” Turner was John Clare’s only wife, whom he married in 1820. The “only” is necessary because, during later life, Clare suffered under the delusion of having had an earlier wife, and sometimes thought he was still married to her (referring to Patty as his “new wife”). See note to “Mary”, below.
  • Northborough” – A village in Northamptonshire (during Clare’s lifetime; it is now part of Cambridgeshire).
  • “it is not a home to me” – The Northborough house was purchased for Clare and his family by friends in 1832. Clare was distraught at leaving his earlier house, however, as expressed in this poem, beginning:

    I’ve left my own old home of homes,
    Green fields and every pleasant place;
    The summer like a stranger comes,
    I pause and hardly know her face.

  • “wrote a letter off to Mr Reid in Alloa” – George Reid, a Scottish correspondent of Clare’s, whom Clare did write to on this date (though I have not yet been able to find the text of the letter). Alloa is a town in Scotland.
  • “Child Harold” – A lengthy poem of Clare’s based on Byron’s Childe Harold. During this period, Clare intermittently believed he was Byron.
  • “‘vapour clouds and storms'” – This phrase appears in Clare’s Childe Harold, in quotes, as it does here.
  • “Matthew Allens Prison in the Forest” – Matthew Allen administered a private mental asylum in a small village within Epping Forest. Clare voluntarily admitted himself there in 1837, and stayed until 1841, though the degree of ‘voluntariness’ decreased over time.
  • “the old Brook” – Possibly a tributary of River Welland.
  • “Mary” – Mary Joyce, whom Clare fell in love with at the age of sixteen. Her father forbade him from seeing her. In later life, Clare sometimes believed that he had been (and still was) married to her.
  • “our children” – Clare had six children by Patty.
  • “my bold escape and walk” – on July 20, 1841, Clare walked out of Matthew Allen’s hospital in Epping Forest, and kept walking for four days, until he made it home.
  • “near 80 miles” – Exact distance is difficult to calculate, but some sources put it closer to 90 miles.
  • High Beech” – The village in which Allen’s asylum was located.
  • “Spring of Life some 30 years ago” – As Moore establishes clearly in Jerusalem (P1030p4) that this took place when Clare was fourteen, it was actually 1807, 34 years ago.
  • “bad Shoe with half the sole hung off” – Clare wrote in August 1841: “[…] one of my old shoes had nearly lost the sole before I started, and let in water and silt the first day, and made me crippled and lame to the end of my journey […]”
  • “Patty […] cleaning work” – I have been unable to document this, but the Clare family was certainly in financial hardship, and it would be unsurprising for Patty to be working.
  • “the yearly sallary my daughter Queen Victoria had promised me […] before last haytime […] else I dreamed it so” – From the same August letter cited above:

    You told me something before haytime about the Queen allowing me a yearly salary of £100, and that the first quarter had then commenced – or else I dreamed so. If I have the mistake is not much consequence to any one save myself, and if true I wish you would get the quarter for me (if due), as I want to be independent and pay for board and lodging while I remain here.

    • One of Clare’s delusions was that he was Queen Victoria’s father. A footnote to his Journal starts “The man whose daughter is the queen of England is now sitting on a stone heap on the high way”.
  • “the Sunday in July” – July 18, 1841, was a Sunday. Clare’s Journal of his walk starts on the 18th with his encountering some gypsies, though the walk itself didn’t start until Tuesday the 20th.
  • “gypseys such as I once livd with in my youth” – Clare was friends with a band of gypsies known as “Boswell’s crew”, and traveled with them for a few days in his 20s, but found the lifestyle not to his liking.
  • “dressed in reeking fur […] barbaric paint marks on their faces” – None of this is in Clare’s Journal. Moore’s version of the story suggests that Clare met up with Boy’s band of walking-folk from chapter one.
  • “idiot boy” – “Boy”, from chapter one.
  • “who could not keep himself nor work towards the common good” – Arguably true of Clare, also.
  • “one of the Gypseys seemed to take a shine to me […] I would get him fifty pounds […] before next Saturday” – Journal, July 18:

    […] fell in with some gipseys, one of whom offered to assist in my escape from the mad house by hideing me in his camp to which I almost agreed but told him I had no money to start with but if he would do so I would promise him fifty pounds and he agreed to do so before saturday

  • “I am not properly decided on what happened next […] less than eager […] they were all gone” – Here, Moore is acknowledging some chronological confusion in the Journal. July 18 entry continues: “On friday I went again but he did not seem so willing so I said little about it — On sunday I went and they were all gone”.
  • “old wide awake hat […] it so turned out to be” – July 18 continues:

    an old wide awake hat and an old straw bonnet of the plumb pudding sort was left behind — and I put the hat in my pocket thinking it might be usefull for another oppertunity — as good luck would have it, it turned out to be so

    • A “wideawake” hat is a hat with a broad brim of black or brown felt.
  • “Did nothing” – Journal, July 19: “Did nothing”
  • “living in the rushes […] feathers” – Clare’s dream is echoing chapter three.
  • “childern” – Archaic spelling of “children”.
  • “Son John” – Clare’s second son and fourth child (not counting one who died in infancy), born 1826.
  • “I have lived in Essex” – In Allen’s asylum.
  • “visited in London on no less than four occasions” – circa 1820, May 1822, May-July 1824, and circa February 1828.
  • “leave agen” – Clare did not leave again, dying in St. Andrews Hospital in 1864.
  • “Norman Castle little more now than a pile of stones” – Northampton Castle was built by Norman Simon de Senlis, narrator of chapter six. The castle had been partially demolished in 1662. In 1813 the castle’s land started to be sold, leading to the further destruction of structures Clare remembered from his youth. Today, essentially nothing remains.
  • “common land fenced & enclosed” – The practice of enclosing common land was crucial to the transformation of England from Feudalism to Capitalism. Many (including Captain Pouch, seen in chapter seven) regarded it as oppression of the common folk. (This is a ludicrously brief gloss on a very complex subject.)
  • “many of the fanciful grotesques about the stonework of St. Peters are destroyed”
    Some “grotesques” of St. Peters

    – True, but thankfully many still remain.

  • sitting on the steps between the pillars at All Saints”
    All Saints circa 1890, by James Hollin
    All Saints circa 1890, by James Hollin

    All Saints Church was destroyed in the Great Fire of Northampton, 1675, then rebuilt (consecrated 1680). In his later life, Clare would often sit upon the steps of the church, or in an alcove flanking the door (see Jerusalem The Steps of All Saints).

  • “A lane where Bears were kept” – Probably Bearward Street, about halfway between All Saints and Holy Sepulcher, and which is said to have held bear baiting pits during the Middle Ages.
  • “a folly” – A tall chimney shaft marking the site of the failed mine, dug in 1836.
  • “Kings Thorp” – Kingsthorpe is a village just north of Northampton.
  • Boughton” – A village four miles north of Northampton.
  • “Edward Drury” – A bookseller who first proposed publishing Clare’s work, and introduced him to publisher John Taylor (Drury’s cousin).
  • Stamford” – A town in Lincolnshire, just over the border from Northamptonshire, to the NW.
  • John Taylor” – A London publisher, cousin of Edward Drury.
  • “between them owe me close to fifty pounds” – The exact amounts which Drury and Taylor cheated Clare out of are hard to precisely determine, but fifty pounds seems likely to be a gross under-estimate. (See link at Drury, above, for more details.)
    • The theme of publishers cheating creators is a frequent one with Moore, who has suffered many such indignities himself.
  • “Mr Knight” – Steward of the St Andrews asylum.
  • Glinton” – A village in Cambridgeshire, where Mary Joyce lived (and died).
  • High Beech” – The village in Epping Forest which contained the asylum where Clare had spent the last four years.
  • “the Nene” – A river which runs through the south of Northampton. The river itself has featured intermittently since chapter one (it is the river which has the bridge), though not named until now. (The origins of the name are “obscure”).
  • “brief sore throated screaming of a Jay” – Clare’s poem “November” (published in The Rural Muse, 1835) contains the phrase “the hoarse jay screams”. Since this chapter (like most) is set in the month of November, it is natural that Moore would want to include a bit of imagery from this poem.
    • “November” is part of a poem-cycle of the months. Near the beginning of “January” are these startling lines, which might almost be discussing Voice of the Fire:

Or old Moore’s annual prophecies
Of flooded fields and clouded skies;
Whose Almanac’s thumb’d pages swarm
With frost and snow, and many a storm,
And wisdom, gossip’d from the stars,
Of politics and bloody wars.

  • “lewd ballad” – Clare was not above writing lewd (or at least suggestive) ballads himself.
  • “that Tuesday in July” – July 20, 1841.
  • “I took the route […] – Journal: “Reconnitred the rout the Gpsey pointed out and found it a legible one […] but being careless […] I missed the lane to Enfield town, and was going down Enfield highway”.
  • “I took it for an empty Ruin” – Clare seems to be intermittently experiencing other times; this ruin might perhaps be the ruin of Garn-smith’s forge, as seen in chapter three.
  • “The Labour in Vain” – Journal: “I passed ‘The Labour in vain’ Public house”.
  • “they have never heard of such a Place” – Modern researchers have been unable to identify any pub of this name on the Enfield highway of this period, though it is a common pub name (in general) to this day. Moore is perhaps suggesting that the pub is a manifestation of Clare’s madness or unstuck-in-time visions.
  • “A person […] I asked what way” – Journal: “A person I knew comeing out of the door told me the way”.
  • “he had an ugly Wound upon one knee” – Confirming that this is Boy from chapter one.
  • “so thick was his speech I could not understand the half of it” – Perhaps a joking reference to how many readers have difficulty with the language of chapter one.
  • “by the York Road to Stevenage” – Journal: “by and by on the great York Road […] I reached Stevenage”.
  • “before the fall of dark. I climbed a paddock gate & then some paleings to a yard where there was a Hovel” – A paddock is a small enclosed field, usually used for pasturing or exercising livestock. Palings are fence pickets or stakes. Journal:

    being Night I got over a gate crossed over the corner of a green paddock […] I scaled some old rotten palings into the yard and then had higher pailings to clamber over to get into the shed or hovel

  • “trussed clover piled up for my Bed” –  Journal: “I found some trusses of clover piled up […] which I gladly mounted and slept on”.
  • “I lay myself down with my head towards the North so that I might not lose my bearings when I woke” – Journal: “I lay down with my head towards the north to show my self the steering point in the morning.”
  • “slept but fitfully and had uneasy dreams  […] there was nobody about” – Journal:

    I slept soundly but had a very uneasy dream   I thought my first wife lay on my left arm and somebody took her away from my side which made me wake up rather unhappy   I thought as I awoke somebody said ‘Mary’ but nobody was near

  • “I thanked God for his providence in finding me a bed if not a meal” – Journal, July 21: “I […] thanked God for his kindness […] (for any thing in a famine is better than nothing and any place that giveth the weary a rest is a blessing)”.
  • “young John […] beside his brother” – John had two brothers, one two years older, the other two years younger. Which is meant here is not certain, but the older brother, being 15, may have already left the household.
  • “yellow light and yellowd pages” – Candlelight is yellowish. Old (or cheap) paper can take on a yellowish hue.
  • “I think of thee at early day […]” – These are the first eight lines of one of several sections of Clare’s Child Harold which are each titled simply “Song”.
  • “flaggy” – Abounding in flag plants (better known as Irises).
  • I must […] see Child Harold is compleat before I am confined” – I have been unable to determine when, in fact, Child Harold was completed.
  • “when I was in Helpstone” – Helpston is a village in Northamptonshire where Clare was born, and where he spent his early life.
  • “calld to Read before Gentility then being done I would be sent to eat down in the Servants hall” – There are several accounts of Clare visiting noblemen and eating with the servants. However,  I could find no actual references to his being “calld to Read” on any of these occasions.
  • “Marys parents set agenst me & it seems to me they thought that I was too low” – History records little of their relationship (that does not come filtered through Clare’s romantic and/or insane nostalgia), but this theory is common and plausible.
  • “other reasons […] as if I had done something wrong” – Moore here begins to allude to his own personal theory about why Mary’s parents might have objected. See Closing Remarks.
  • “on the left hand side […] at which they awoke” – Journal: “on the left hand side the road under the bank like a cave I saw a Man and boy coiled up asleep which I hailed and they woke up”.
  • “like Lazarus” – Biblical figure whom Christ raised from the dead. The grave/Lazarus imagery does not appear in Clare’s Journal.
  • Derbyshire” – A county in the East Midlands of England.
  • “telling me that the village to the North of there was Baldeck” – Baldock is a town in Hertfordshire, north of Stevenage. Journal: “to tell me the name of the next village”
  • “it seemed to me there was a smell of burning hung about the pair” – Suggesting that the boy is Boy from chapter one, and the older man is Hob.
  • “I did not meet the two of them agen” – Perhaps because Clare has, in some sense, passed the end of Boy’s story; the burning smell indicating that Boy has now been sacrificed.
  • “some where on the London side […] beer” – Journal: “Some where on the London side the ‘Plough’ Public house a Man passed me on horseback in a Slop frock […] and threw me a penny to get a half pint of beer”. “Slop-frock” is defined in Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases (1854), citing Clare.
  • “I passed by two drovers […] that I might chance upon” – Journal: “I would have begged a penny of two drovers who were very saucey so I begged no more of any body meet who I would”.
  • “Jacks Hill […] newly built” – Journal: “Jacks Hill is passed already consisting of a beer shop and some houses on the hill appearing newly built”.
  • “saw a milestone saying I was more than Thirty miles from london” – Journal: “the last Mile stone 35 Miles from London”.
  • “milestones passed by […] asunder” – Journal: “I seemed to pass the Milestones very quick in the morning but towards night they seemed to be stretched further asunder”.
  • Potton” – A town in Bedfordshire, north of Baldock.
  • “in Potton I met with a country man who walked with me” – This does not appear to be anyone in particular. Journal: “I then went through Potton and happened with a kind talking country man”.
  • “rest upon a flint heap” – Journal: “seeing a stone or flint heap I longed to rest”.
  • “I was hopping […] Sole” – Journal: “I went on hopping with a crippled foot for the gravel had got into my old shoes one of which had now nearly lost the sole”.
  • “my companion had a coach to meet […] out of sight” – Journal: “to meet the coach which he feared missing — he started hastily and was soon out of sight”.
  • “I walked lonely […] starved and friendless” – Journal:

    It now began to grow dark apace and the odd houses on the road began to light up and show the inside tennants lots very comfortable and my outside lot very uncomfortable and wretched

  • “soon I did not know […] half convinced I headed back” – Journal: “I then suddenly forgot which was North or South […] so I went on mile after mile almost convinced I was going the same way I came”.
  • ” I glimpsed a light […] Tollgate” – Journal: “I saw a lamp shining as bright as the moon which on nearing I found was suspended over a Tollgate”.
  • “Temsford” – Tempsford is a village in Bedfordshire, north of Potton. There was a turnpike gate there.
  • “a man who had a candle […] headed north” – Journal: “the man came out with a candle and eyed me narrowly […] I stopt to ask him wether I was going northward and he said when you get through the gate you are”.
  • “some of my old strength […] Highland Mary” – Journal: “[…] gathered my old strength   as my doubts vanished I soon cheered up and hummed the air of highland Mary”. Highland Mary is a song composed in 1792 by Robert Burns.
  • “I came to an odd house […] trough or spout” – Journal: “I at length fell in with an odd house all alone near a wood but I could not see what the sign was though the sign seemed to stand oddly enough in a sort of trough or spout”. In this context, “spout” seems synonymous with “trough”.
  • “a monstrous hut of clay and reeds” – Presumably Stilts’s hut from chapter three.
  • “there was a kind of porch […] blessd the Queen” – Journal:

    there was a large porch over the door and being weary I crept in and glad enough I was to find I could lye with my legs straight   the inmates were all gone to roost for I could hear them turn over in bed as I lay full length on the stones in the poach — I slept here till daylight and felt very much refreshed as I got up […] I could not help blessing the Queen

    • Although the phrase “gone to roost” is used metaphorically by Clare’s Journal, it takes on a more literal meaning in Moore’s usage, as Stilts’s “new family” is composed of birds.
  • “I think of thee at dewy morn […]” – Lines 9-16 of the same “Song” quoted above. Note that this is the source of the chapter title.
  • coverts” – In this context, greenery which provides cover for game.
  • “I went on past St. Neots” – St. Neots is a town in Huntingdonshire, north of Potton. Journal: “a town I think it might be St Ives but I forget the name […] It was St. Neots.”
  • “I rested […] honest countenance” – Journal:

    I sat down to rest on a flint heap […] I saw a tall Gipsey come out of the Lodge gate and make down the road towards where I was sitting […] she was a young woman with an honest looking countenance

  • “a string of old blue beads made from a worn and cloudy kind of Glass” – Having earlier encountered Boy, and Sticks’ hut, Clare now meets Nusin, from chapter two.
  • “I asked her […] good humour” – Journal: “I spoke to her and asked her a few questions which she answered readily and with evident good humour”.
  • “I came to think there some thing crafty in her manner […] conceal” – Another indicator that we are dealing with Nusin. Clare’s Journal displays no such distrust.
  • “I walked on with her […]” – Journal: “I got up and went on to the next town with her”.
  • “having always had a fondness for the company of handsome women” – This is not in the Journal, but is true enough.
  • “as we were on our way she told me […] Id be noticed” – Journal: “she cautioned me on the way to put something in my hat to keep the crown up and said in a lower tone ‘you’ll be noticed’ “.
  • “some thing sly and secretive about her” – Again, not found in Clare’s Journal.
  • “so I took no notice & made no reply” – Journal: “not knowing what she hinted — I took no notice and made no reply”.
  • “at length she pointed to a small church tower which she called Shefford Church” – Journal: “at length she pointed to a small tower church which she called Shefford Church”. While there is a town of Shefford in Bedfordshire, it doesn’t seem very close to Clare’s route, and is quite far from St. Neots; perhaps the gypsy is mistaken or lying, or perhaps Clare misremembers.
  • “said that I should go […] fifteen miles” – Journal “advised me to go on a footway which would take me direct to it and I should shorten my journey fifteen miles by doing so”.
  • “I had by now become afraid she meant to do Away with me” – Justifiably, given Nusin’s past behavior. By contrast, Clare’s Journal here reads: “I would gladly have taken the young womans advice feeling that it was honest and a nigh guess towards the truth”.
  • “I thanked her […] left hand side” – Journal:

    but fearing I might loose my way and not be able to find the north road again I thanked her and told her I should keep to the road when she bade me ‘good day’ and went into a house or shop on the left hand side the road

  • “I […] was so faint I have no recollection of the places that I passed” – Journal: “I have but a slight reccolection of my journey […] for I was knocked up and noticed little or nothing”.
  • “save that the road seemed very near as stupid […] My sleep” – Journal: “for the road very often looked as stupid as myself and I was very often half asleep as I went”.
  • “I was lost to Time […]or yet knew what Year it was” – This is original to Moore, and perhaps suggests that Clare has a vague understanding that he is meeting people from the past.
  • “I can’t expect to meet thee now […]” – Lines 17-24 of the same “Song” quoted above.
  • lorn” – Forsaken, bereft, desolate.
  • “Becketts Well […] Thomas the Martyr” – Local legend has it that Saint Thomas Becket drank from this well while fleeing his trial in Northampton in 1164.
    • thomas_becket_holy_well_northampton
      Becket’s Well c.1830

      This picture shows Becket’s Well circa 1830. The structure seen here was replaced with another in 1843 (just two years after this chapter), which can still be seen today. This change of well structure forms another example of the transience which so concerns Clare — and Moore.

  • “Dern gate” – A small gate, just to the south of the main East gate into Northampton. The word “dern” is an archaic one meaning “secret, hidden”; presumably this gate may once have been hidden, but not within recent centuries. Beckett’s Well is just past this gate. Today, there is a “Derngate Road” near its former location.
  • “on the third or forth day […] I do not know which” – This confusion derives from Clare’s Journal. While he clearly states “on the third day”, it is in the middle of passages relating events from the fourth day, suggesting Clare may have become confused as to his chronology. Alternatively, he may have inserted it as a previously-forgotten detail, recalled due to the immediately-following incident also having to do with hunger.
  • “I was so Starvd […] do me good” – Journal:

    I satisfied my hunger by eating the grass by the road side which seemed to taste something like bread   I was hungry and eat heartily till I was satisfied and in fact the meal seemed to do me good

  • “I recollected […] I was not hungry” – Journal:

    I reccollected that I had some tobacco and my box of lucifers being exhausted I could not light my pipe so I took to chewing Tobacco all day and eat the quids when I had done and I was never hungry afterwards

    • lucifers” is archaic slang for “matches”.
  • “I went on through Bugden and then Stilton […] near to sleep” – Journal:

    I remember passing through Buckden […] I came to stilton where I was completely foot foundered and broken down […] a gravel causeway invited me to rest myself so I lay down and nearly went sleep

    • Buckden is a village 3.7 miles north of St. Neots.
    • Stilton is a village about 16 miles north of Buckden.
  • “voices that I took for Angels […] I did not understand” – This is an addition by Moore, presumably to draw a thematic link with chapter eight, “Angel Language”.
  • “seemed a young woman […] saw no one they came from” – Journal:

    a young woman (so I guessed by the voice) came out of a house and said ‘poor creature’ and another more elderly said ‘O he shams’ but when I got up the latter said ‘o no he don’t’ as I hobbled along very lame
    I heard the voices but never looked back to see where they came from

  • “I went in way of Peterborough and my Home” – Journal: “the road […] did lead to Peterborough   as soon as ever I was on it I felt myself in homes way”.
    • Peterborough is a city about 7 miles north of Stilton, and the closest city to Clare’s home.
  • “the great fire” – The Great Fire of Northampton occured in 1675. It is discussed in some detail in the Jerusalem chapter Malignant, Refractory Spirits.
  • “Welsh House” – As discussed in Jerusalem, the Welsh House, being largely of stone and having a back door, provided an escape route for many people trapped in the Market Square.

    The Welsh House today
  • “Mat Seyzinger” – I have found a few references to a Matthew Seyzinger, coachman, who was buried in 1841. I have been unable to determine why he was “famous” and “had a great following”.
  • Jem Welby – Unknown.
  • “There now this is our Church” – See Closing Remarks.
  • “through Peterborough I came next to Walton & then Werrington” – Journal: “through Peterborough […] bye and bye I passed Walton and soon reached Werrington”.
  • “when I saw a cart […] this blarney” – Journal:

    when a cart met me with a man and woman and a boy in it   when nearing me the woman jumped out and caught fast hold of my hands and wished me to get into the cart but I refused and thought her either drunk or mad but when I was told it was my second wife Patty I got in and was soon at Northborough but Mary was not there neither could I get any information about her further then the old story of her being dead six years ago which might be taken from a bran new old Newspaper printed a dozen years ago but I took no notice of the blarney

    • blarney” is “nonsense”.
    • This is the last segment which paraphrases Clare’s Journal.
  • “broadsheets said that I myself were dead” – Clare was erroneously reported dead in June 1840 (rather more than a year ago).
  • “were they right & this is Hell” – This idea is developed further in Jerusalem.
  • “Well you thought wrong like Hobs Hog” – Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases (1864) lists:

    HOB’S-HOG.  When a person conjectures wrongly, he is commonly compared to Hob’s hog, which, it is said, when the butcher went into the sty to kill him, fancied his breakfast was coming.

    • In context, this is an obvious reference to chapter one, “Hob’s Hog”. Indeed, this colorful saying may be the source of chapter one’s title and (partially) plot.
  • “I picked a pebble up […] & set it in my mouth” – Clare is unconsciously aping Stilts from chapter three.
  • “There we are married now & made her promis she would not Tell any one what we had done” – See Closing Remarks.
  • “While life breaths on this earthly ball […]” – Lines 25-28 of the same “Song” quoted above. Moore does not include the final lines:

    Tis winter & the fields are bare & waste
    The air one mass of ” vapour clouds & storms”
    The suns broad beams are buried & oercast
    & chilly glooms the midday light deforms
    Yet comfort now the social bosom warms
    Friendship of nature which I hourly prove
    Even in this winter scene of frost & storms
    Bare fields the frozen lake & leafless grove
    Are natures grand religion & true love.

Closing Remarks

  • While Moore merely hints at it here, in Jerusalem it is made explicit that Clare (or at least Moore’s fictionalized version of him) had sex with Mary Joyce when she was ten years old, which in his mind constituted “marriage”. It is unclear whether or not Mary could be thought to have consented, but her parents certainly would not have, and the incident led to lasting mental trauma for Clare.
    • Early biographers place the date of Clare’s falling in love with Mary at 1808 or 1809. Moore places it at 1807, when Clare was 14 (as is made explicit in Jerusalem, The Steps of All Saints).
  • In 2009, The John Clare Society Journal reprinted this chapter as a standalone short story. One wonders what the readership made of it, lacking the context for the many references to other chapters. This reprint included two small illustrations, uncredited.
  • Alan Moore appears in a 2015 film about Clare, “By Our Selves“.
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