Robert Bloomfield

1766-1823

'Let his wild native wood notes tell the rest'

 

Robert Bloomfield is buried in All Saints churchyard in Campton in Bedfordshire, England.
 

 Robert Bloomfield's Grave

 

Robert Bloomfield was born at Honington is Suffolk. His father died of smallpox in 1767 leaving his mother to bring up six children alone. She worked as a school teacher and a wool spinner to support the family.

 

Honington Church Suffolk

Honington Church Suffolk

 

Plaque to Bloomfield inside Honington Church

 

When Bloomfield was 11 years old his uncle offered him work on his farm at nearby Sapiston. For the next four years Bloomfield worked as a labourer: minding the sheep and scaring the birds. It was these pleasurable country experiences which would inform his masterpiece The Farmer 's Boy.
 

Robert Bloomfield

 

However, Bloomfield was a short and fragile youth and by the age of 15 it became clear that he was unsuited to the rigours of manual labour and so he was sent to London to work as a shoemaker alongside his two elder brothers.

He later married and started a family - but his life in the capital was full of hardship and squalor. However, it was here that he started to write The Farmer's Boy - recalling his farm worker's life in Suffolk - and employing the same meter as The Deserted Village by Goldsmith. The poem was finally finished in 1798. Initially there was no interest from publishers but then Mr Capel Lofft a barrister from Troston Hall near Honington - who was captivated by the poem - found a publisher. It was an immediate success selling 26,000 copies in three years. As a result Bloomfield became rich and helped to start the vogue for 'peasant poetry'. (See also John Clare.) Spurred on by this success he wrote many other rural inspired poems including: Journey Down the Wye, Rural Tales and May Day with the Muses.

However, in 1812 his publisher went bankrupt and Bloomfield was forced to leave London and abandon his comfortable lifestyle. He moved to Shefford in Bedfordshire. He died here in 1823 - ill and penniless. He was probably not a 'great' English poet but he was a skilled wordsmith and his pastoral poem ensures him a place in English literature.

Here is an extract from it:

Its dark-green hue, its sicklier tints all fail,
And ripening harvest rustles in the gale.
A glorious sight, if glory dwells below,
Where Heaven's munificence makes all the show
O'er every field and golden prospect found,
That glads the ploughman's Sunday morning's round,
When on some eminence he takes his stand,
To judge the smiling produce of the land.

Links:

Honington Church

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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