Thursday 19 October 2017

After Reading In A Letter Proposals For Building A Cottage

  After Reading In A Letter Proposals For Building A Cottage

    Beside a runnel build my shed,
    With stubbles cover'd o'er;
    Let broad oaks o'er its chimney spread,
    And grass-plats grace the door.

    The door may open with a string,
    So that it closes tight;
    And locks would be a wanted thing,
    To keep out thieves at night.

    A little garden, not too fine,
    Inclose with painted pales;
    And woodbines, round the cot to twine,
    Pin to the wall with nails.

    Let hazels grow, and spindling sedge,
    Bent bowering over-head;
    Dig old man's beard from woodland hedge,
    To twine a summer shade.

    Beside the threshold sods provide,
    And build a summer seat;
    Plant sweet-briar bushes by its side,
    And flowers that blossom sweet.

    I love the sparrow's ways to watch
    Upon the cotter's sheds,
    So here and there pull out the thatch,
    That they may hide their heads.

    And as the sweeping swallows stop
    Their flights along the green,
    Leave holes within the chimney-top
    To paste their nest between.

    Stick shelves and cupboards round the hut,
    In all the holes and nooks;
    Nor in the corner fail to put
    A cupboard for the books.

    Along the floor some sand I'll sift,
    To make it fit to live in;
    And then I'll thank ye for the gift,
    As something worth the giving.

John Clare (1793-1864)

I pass this tiny derelict cottage, a long way from anywhere, when out walking with the dog. I suppose its former inhabitants once had modest dreams for it too.


  1. Blimey, if that was in Suffolk it would have been rebuilt into a giant mansion by now!

  2. It's in Suffolk in the middle of farm land near to us.

  3. Perhaps you could check the Griffiths valuations or the 1901 census to see who lived there. Would you like to buy it for a renovation project? There are lots of derelict properties here in Ireland. Some are really inexpensive: fifteen thousand upwards.

  4. I think the plot would be rather pricey. As Sue points out, it's Suffolk. If I was a bit younger a renovation project in rural Ireland would appeal (even in an area with no bus routes or nearby pubs!)