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Margaret Grainger (ed.), The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare

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pg 72note a1

1'Will with a whisp' 'Jinney Whisk' Jack with a lanthorn in this 2november month they are often out in the dark misty nights—on 3'Rotten Moor' 'Dead Moor'2 Eastwell moor—Banton3 Green end 4Lolham Briggs Rine dyke furlong [ ] [ ]4 & many other places in the 5lordship I have myself seen them on most of these spots—one dark 6night I was coming accross the new parks when a sudden light wild 7& pale appea⟨r⟩ed all round me on my left hand for [del. \at the/ ] a 8hundred yards or more accompaned by a crackling noise like that of 9peas straw burning5 I stood looking for a minute or so & felt rather 10alarmed when darkness came round me again & one of the dancing 11jack a la⟨n⟩thorns was whisking away in the distance which caused 12the odd luminous light around me—crossing the meadow one dark 13Sunday night I saw when coming over the Nunton bridge a light like 14a lanthorn standing on the wall of the other bridge I kept my eyes on 15it for awhile & hastened6 to come up to it—but ere I got half over 16the meadow it suddenly fell & tumbled into the stream—& when I 17got on the bridge I looked down it & saw the will o whi⟨s⟩p vapour 18like a light in a bladder whisking along close to the water as if 19swiming along its surface but what supprised me was that it was 20going contrary to the stream7

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 Taken from Pet. MS A49, p. 49. See North. MS 15, 'The Will o whisp or Jack a lanthorn'.
Editor’s Note
2 Near Nunton and Maxey.
Editor’s Note
3 Probably for 'Bainton', which Tibble supplies.
Editor’s Note
4 Two gaps in the MS; Clare probably intended to name another locality.
Editor’s Note
5 'Blazing like burning, crackling wisps of straw' ('Will-o'-wisp', Poems, ii. 56).
Editor’s Note
6 Could read 'hasted'.
Editor’s Note
7 At the end of this passage there are some scribbled notes which Clare presumably jotted down to aid his memory: 'meadow / brig / rinedyke / whisp of / peas straw / rotten moor / dancing / reeds'.
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