Poem introduction

Clare’s poems about birds and their nests are some of my very favourite poems. His field craft was so good it’s still referred to today by ornithologists as a historical record of this particular part of England, between the Fens and the old Northamptonshire limestone heath land. So, here we have the nightingale but this isn’t the romantic nightingale we hear in Keats. Keats’ bird has flown in from the classical world and I think, in the Romantics generally, a bird was often reduced to pure utterance, pure song - think of 'The Skylark' or 'The Cuckoo'. But Clare is working in the margins of all of that and, in this poem, he gets down on his hands and knees and risks the scratches of a thorn bush to describe an encounter not just with the bird, with the nightingale, but its habitat, its nest and, at the centre of all this, its curious eggs.

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I really enjoyed listening to all the poems in the Archive. It's fantastic to hear poets reading their own work. It...

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