When Chris and I were in Arizona 2 years ago we heard a series of lectures at Arizona State University by a professor from Oxford, Jonathan Bate, on the subject of “How the Humanities can save the world.” I found them fascinating and have meant to blog about those lectures. Must do that soon.One day Bate discussed a little known poet by the name of John Clare who Bate says is the most important poet of nature in the UK. Even though he is not well know.
John Clare was an English poet and the son of a farm labourer, who became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and his deep sadness at its disruption. Like me, he hated to see the commons desecrated. He hated to see the ecosystems of flowers and community disturbed.
Clare was not very well known or respected until the 20th century when many started to realize that he was one of the most important poets of the 19th century. Perhaps poets like Clare can help the Humanities save the planet.
He can do that because he points, however vaguely to a new attitude to nature. I have blogged a little bit about that but again must do more. I must return to this subject as soon as I can relegate politics to the backhouse where it belongs
One of Clare’s poems which Bate talked about was “Autumn” in which Clare describes the changing of the seasons:
Thy pencil dashing its excess of shades,
Improvident of waste, till every bough
Burns with thy mellow touch
I love that idea. Autumn leaves evince the disorderly divine. Perhaps what we need to save the planet is the disorderly divine. Perhaps that is what the Humanities can give to us. That’s a lot.