Joshua Kryah

from Closen

Closen is a verse-drama about the life and work of the British peasant poet John Clare. In this exchange, imagined during his escape from High Beech Asylum, Clare calls to his childhood sweetheart, Mary Joyce, who died, unbeknownst to Clare, while still a girl.


Roseate, the already gone

to red horizon,


                          my dwelling place, this always,

     this endless—when I get into my own fields

and don’t know them,


                                   everything now so changed, so lost

     Dear Mary, it is hard to seize what was,

what, impossibly, might have been.


       Out of the heath and air

you’re made, you move. I hear the sound of you

   from my mind break free. Your voice


in the tall grass, what first led me astray—

its fugitive promise


of landfall, harbor,







Of all the dwellings

     none is


                               more elsewhere

            than the wildwood where no one


     can me arouse, in my half-dead tree, my

not-so-green domain


                                                                  where, among living things,

                                                   I remain, un-thinged,


                                       a voice that eats away

                      at your listening—


I’m here, I’m here, I’m here—


            only to leave you stricken

     and farewell-








I thought as I awoke

       somebody said ‘Mary’ but nobody was near—

            I lay down with my head towards the north


to show my self the steering point—


that flicker and fade, fade

and flicker,


                    the red ribbons in her hair, how they continued

            to flash and flare. My sunrise and sunset,


what the birds told me,

through the light, the dark,


the sometimes gray

and grayer marsh air,


was not there.






Set out became so suddenly



               The wantonness of such a journey—

      whither will you?


                                       And wander and wander, until,

                         my always retreating figure

 catches, again,


your eye.


           Reluctant to give you that much,

   but that I must pass through.

      Restrained by your adamance,

  your arrest,


      you insist that I was once



but where, where?






Mark her as she meanders, as she

makes her entrance.


                               To ward off desolation, she says, we must

            meet apart, we must go somewhere else.


In the field,

                    the trees, even the birds’ nests, her

every beauty, everywhere,




© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review