William, Mary and Dorothy.

When they were in Germany in 1798, Dorothy bought 4 small leather bound notebooks which enclosed the handmade paper. These each had their own protective box. Dorothy chose one of these to be her Journal.

What did she write in her Journal? Why,  their daily doings, conversations, what happened in the house and surrounding countryside. Her brother William was going away for awhile, she thought it would be nice for him to read on his return

Dorothy was not a well woman, she recorded her toothaches, she rests a lot, this is when she writes, maybe not every day, weeks could go by between entries When she wrote, she writes fast, little punctuation as she uses dashes.

Everything is worthy of writing down, ironing the bedding, the moss on a stone, what the villagers say as they pass. In the 1700’s there was little transport, if you wanted to go somewhere, you had to walk, miles and miles for quite small purchases, a newspaper for instance or, to post a letter. After walking for awhile, Dorothy would sit on a stone, tree stump or bridge, she would look around her.

Crows, she noted  ‘Crows at a little distance from us become white to silver

Paper at that time was so expensive, every little corner was made use of. Not only Dorothy lived in the house but the three poets, William and his wife, Mary and their lodger and friend, Samuel. Paper being at such a premium, all of them used the margins of Dorothy’s journal, even to squeeze a verse in between one of her paragraphs. We are not told whether Mary resented this intrusion.

Did you know that the original of ‘I Wandered Lonely as Cloud’, was written as prose in Mary’s journal, by Mary?  Tuesday 15th April 1802. She was out walking with William, she noticed the ‘belt of daffodils nodding in the wind by the side of the lake…..’. When they got home and she had done her household chores, she wrote about them in the journal.

How did William come to write his poem? When Dorothy was ill in bed, he was looking through her journal, looking for empty space, when he saw the entry about Daffodils.

Extract of entry 15th April 1802.

“When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils close to the water-side. We fancied that the lake floated the seeds ashore and that the little colony had sprung up. But as went along there were more and yet more; and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon the stones  as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. They were here and there a little knot, and a few stragglers a few yards higher up”.

Did you also know that there are two versions of the poem? The first, a three verse poem, William wrote in 1805 and published in 1807. Dissatisfied, William created the second, a four verse version in 1815, It is said, his wife Mary wrote the last verse in both versions. It is interesting to know that In the prose that Dorothy wrote she uses ‘We, in his poems  – William uses ‘I’.

Wordsworth would have not written some of his poems without referring to the notes in the journal kept by Dorothy. She was his muse, his inspiration.

All this information I found out while doing a free online course ran by

Futurelearn. They run free online short course learning.


William Wordsworth,  Mary Wordsworth (nee Hutchinson), Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Journal keeper: Dorothy Wordsworth.

You can visit Dove Cottage and a Museum in Grasmere, Jerwood all artefacts are kept her. You can find out about them on the internet. 



Thought for today – for a Poet

LIVE like a poet

SPEAK like a poet

LOVE like a poet

THINK like a poet

DREAM like a poet

ACT like a poet.

Will it make you into a poet? You can only try it and see!

You do need to actually DO SOMETHING as well…….


An imagined interview by a local poet.

                                                                                         November 2016.

Lit Fest Poet.    

Jess: Welcome John to Wakefield  Lit Fest.

John:   It is really good to be here and talking about my latest poetry book.  This one I have given my all my time and energy to and I hope the readers will enjoy it.

Jess: Before we ‘get into’ your book, I would like to ask you where you were born.

John:   My family have lived in various parts of Cumbria for generations, I was born in Carlisle, the eldest of three boys.

Jess: Your mum and dad had plenty on their hands then!

John:   You can say that again, we kept them busy, we were a family of keen footballers, mum had loads of muddy sports gear to cope with, to say nothing of feeding four males. Carlisle F.C. became a tradition in our family.

Jess: Somehow, football and poetry don’t seem to mix, when did your interest in that come along.

John:   I liked the bits of stuff we did in Primary School,  it was when we got into Junior School that Mr Jones caught my attention with it. He used to read poems aloud to us. It was surprising how rowdy boys settled down and listened. He was Welsh you know, his accent and his voice, perhaps it was his accent.

Jess:   Can you remember your favourites?

John:  Gosh! You are testing my memory now. There was John Masefield’s Sea Fever, and oh yes! The one about Highwayman. He read a lot of Dylan Thomas, they were good too, I think out of all them the poems of William Wordsworth resonated with me. I built my own style on him.

Jess:  You have settled in Yorkshire, you have a wife and I think, two sons?

John:  Yes, that’s correct, they are all keen on football, following in the families Carlisle F. C., tradition, we go to matches whenever we can.

Jess:  Do they write poetry too?

John:   Oh! Bits and bobs, nothing too heavy or serious, more the rude jokey boy’s stuff, they are eight and ten years old, there’s time yet.

Jess:  Time to tell us about your book now! What’s its title?

John:   I have called it ‘Rustic Tales’, it’s a selection of 25 poems about farming and countryside. I have based it on the  Yorkshire Dales. It tells of hill sheep farmers, the moorlands, the valley bottoms, church steeples and of course, the local pub. There has been a collaboration between myself and artist, Arthur Johnson for the illustrations, ‘two for the price of one,’ if you like.

Jess:  Are you going to read us one of your Poems John?

John: As we are on Wakefield, I will read from a previous book,

‘Ponies Grazing on Heath Common.’

Fringed by a matted

mane, ribs just from the grey

tethered by a length of chain

and the onward crawl of years.

Treading a shrunken circle

of worn grass, the days pass

to the distant thrum of traffic,

a locomotive’s faraway fugue.

Wilting hips coughed mist,

a draped shroud of neglect,

one more black scrub afternoon

to shuffle to one side.

Jess:  That’s great John, thank you, we all look forward to reading your new book, now on sale at the back of the room, where John will be pleased to meet and greet you.


Note:  Poem written by John Irving Clarke in his 2016 book ‘Listening to Owls’.


But, there are so many trees in the Jungle.

No television programme prompts

so much discussion of those who

like it and those who do not.


The setting, a beautiful rainforest

in Australia, full of lushness

raindrops dripping for the trees.


The horror of the candidates

disgusting tasks, eating the

uneatable by sensible people.


The jolly, geniality of the

shows award-winning presenters,

candidates desperate for notoriety.


Can the money earned by taking

part, really compensate for the

lack of dignity? Being a laughing-stock.


Young people hoping to create a career,

older people trying to re-create theirs,

some, maybe just in it for the money.


What do the real inhabitants of

the rainforest think about the invasion

from the other side of the world?


Before they came, and after they

have gone, the majestic, ancient

trees will still grow up and older.




Early Morning Light.                                              (6.00 a.m., 18.8.17)


My coughing woke me up.

Unable to lay down any longer,

I collect my clothes

not wanting to disturb the

sleeping husband.


Stumbling down the stairs,

clinging to the bannister.


I make a cup of coffee

and take it into the

living room.


Opening the curtains

there it is, my street!



it is filled with early

morning light, brown tiled

roofs are flushed by the

rising sun.


The tree in the garden,

It’s lime green leaves turned

bright gold.


Looking down the street,

The sky is pink and golden.

Grey cotton-wool clouds dot

the sky.


The intensity of the

early morning light takes my

breath away.


The sun is not yet in sight

yet, but its power and

brightness make me know that

morning has broken.


Yes, it is worth being

awake so early to see

the sun rising.

The purpose of the ‘Blobs’.                          Personification

                                                                              September 2015.

The Snow Queen, called the Snow Blobs to her, to give them their last instructions before they went falling to earth.   She said ‘this group of blobs is unlike any other, they are the Elite Ones. You are constructed differently, you are formed to be moulded into snowballs and snowmen’. The blobs giggled excitedly, ‘they were special’, they were to be fun for children’. They could hardly wait!

The Queen’s men opened the Great Snow Doors.  On the Queen’s signal, the blobs went towards the opening and launched themselves into Space.   The noise of the Great Snow Doors closing, echoed in their ears.  The blobs hurtled earthwards, gaining in size, becoming snowflakes as their blobbiness flattened.

Nearly there now, they dropped through the sky,  floating silently to earth. They heard the excited chatter of the childish voices, happily talking about making a Snowman, running indoors to collect scarves and hats, a carrot for a nose, buttons for eyes. rushing outside to greet the snow’s arrival.

The Blobs purpose in life was about to begin.                                   

Everyday things!


Ah! Bisto – we all used to say.

The power of the T.V., advertisement.

We all came to know the Bisto family.


Grandma used to thicken the essence

At the bottom of the roasting the beef,

Thickened it with cornflour, or a drop

of Yorkshire Pudding mixture.


At home with mum and dad,

We had Yorkshire Pudding with

Onion gravy as a starter.

We had our roast beef dinner

With gravy, of course.

Then, our dessert course,

Yorkshire pudding with sweetened milk.


As an elderly wife, now in 2017

I use Yorkshire Puddings made

By Auntie Bessie – 4 minutes in the microwave!

BUT !  I still make traditional Gravy to pour over.

BUT !  I do use, not an OXO cube but a stock pot jelly.