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Featured Poem: All Nature has a Feeling by John Clare

Written by The Reader, 30th January 2012

This week's Featured Poem has been chosen by Wirral project worker Helen Wilson; a very evocative and thought provoking piece by John Clare.

I read this poem with one of my open community groups recently, all of whom immediately began to talk enthusiastically about ‘that feeling’ being around nature brings about, agreeing unanimously that it was ‘good’. We were all particularly struck with the parallels between the poem and our current book, The Rainbow, where characters seem to have very strong ties with the natural world. One women commented that she couldn’t help but have green shoots come to mind all through reading of the poem, explaining, ‘they remind you that it’s getting warmer – summer’s on its way’. We then talked about how new flowers – ‘blooms revivified’ – are like a symbol of hope, coming through after the many deaths of winter.

How silence can ‘speak happiness’ provoked some careful thought, with many members reflecting upon the quiet calm found in natural surroundings. Why this might be ‘beyond the reach of books’ gave us a great deal food for thought, especially as we were all in a reading group at the time!

The group was quite perplexed by ‘Its birth was heaven’, unable to attach an exact meaning to these words, but were very keen on ‘There’s nothing mortal in them’. One member commented, ‘to be mortal is to really die, but here there’s no real death’. This was picked up on by the rest of the group, who mentioned ‘the cycle of life’ and how reassuring it was that new life replaces the old. Some people commented on how remembering this ‘bigger picture’ made it easier not to worry about the day to day trials life can bring.

Explanations and ideas were often accompanied by much gesticulating, as if the group couldn’t quite express what they felt the poem was getting at in words alone. One women made small circles in the air to illustrate her point, whilst another drew lines with her hands above one another to show the ‘different levels’ she felt the poem referred to. One group member finished off the session by stating quite firmly, ‘there’s life and then there’s life, y’know, and this is life.’

All Nature has a Feeling

All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal; and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There's nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal is its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.

John Clare

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