The Stranger

by JOHN CLARE (1793-1864)

When trouble haunts me, need I sigh?
No, rather smile away despair;
For those have been more sad than I,
With burthens more than I could bear;
Aye, gone rejoicing under care
Where I had sunk in black despair.

When pain disturbs my peace and rest,
Am I a hopeless grief to keep,
When some have slept on torture’s breast
And smiled as in the sweetest sleep,
Aye, peace on thorns, in faith forgiven,
And pillowed on the hope of heaven?

Though low and poor and broken down,
Am I to think myself distrest?
No, rather laugh where others frown
And think my being truly blest;
For others I can daily see
More worthy riches worse than me.

Aye, once a stranger blest the earth
Who never caused a heart to mourn,
Whose very voice gave sorrow mirth
And how did earth his worth return?
It spurned him from its lowliest lot,
The meanest station owned him not;

An outcast thrown in sorrow’s way,
A fugitive that knew no sin,
Yet in lone places forced to stray
Men would not take the stranger in.
Yet peace, though much himself he mourned,
Was all to others he returned.

His presence was a peace to all,
He bade the sorrowful rejoice.
Pain turned to pleasure at his call,
Health lived and issued from his voice.
He healed the sick and sent abroad
The dumb rejoicing in the Lord.

The blind met daylight in his eye,
The joys of everlasting day;
The sick found health in his reply;
The cripple threw his crutch away.
Yet he with troubles did remain
And suffered poverty and pain.

Yet none could say of wrong he did,
And scorn was ever standing bye;
Accusers by their conscience chid,
When proof was sought, made no reply.
Yet without sin he suffered more
Than ever sinners did before.

John Clare Contemporaries
Heinrich Heine
Thomas Love Peacock
William Maginn
Samuel Lover

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