John Clare ended his days in an asylum, not because (Mr. Blunden believed) he was mad, but through misunderstanding. No one could understand his certain whims and fancies, and so he was shut up. John Clare could make a tree or a street seem like a person, or an old friend -- indeed they were so to him : he had always known them. Referring to his book on the life of John Clare, Mr. Blunden said during the war he told Clare's works with him to France, and he found that the poet was, as it were, to his own nature, and he seemed to understand him better than anything else. (Applause). This made him determined, if he came out of the war, to put the poet's life before the public. Thanks to the Peterborough Museum, where Clare's papers were stored, he was able to write this book. (Hear, hear). The book was in great demand, and they had even had orders from Belgium, Holland, and other places. (Hear, hear). In conclusion the speaker said Helpston should be very pround of having produced such a son. (Applause).
Mr. A.G. Barley proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Blunden for his presence, also for the recent work he had done in connection with reviving interest in John Clare. They wished to express their indebtedness to him. (Hear, hear). He was sure they were all very proud that they had that cottage still in their midst, and now they had something to remind them and the coming generation of what John Clare was. To those who had read and studied his poems, the interest was very great indeed. (Applause). Those who read his poems released most Clare's love of this village. He gloried in a mole hill! It had been said that it took a mountain to inspire a poet, but John Clare never saw a mountain in his life. Mr. Barley had the greatest pleasure in moving this vote of thanks to Mr. Blunden. (Applause).
Mr. W.H. Broome (chairman of the Parish Council) seconded, remarking that he was sure they all felt very proud to belong to a village in which this poet lived, also to have still in the village the cottage in which he was born. (Applause).
Mr. J.W. Bodger said so many people had been kind in helping them to erect this stone, and he was grateful to them all. (Hear, hear). There were still some of Clare's descendants in the village, and he believed some were present somewhere, although he could not spot them. He was only too pleased to add his testimony for what had been done by Mr. Blunden in connection with that great work. (Applause).
Mr. Hartley said Mr. Blunden would be a celebrated man through his connection with John Clare, if nothing else, but he believed, if he might say so, that he would be a celebrated poet. It would be like a very good poet after another good poet. (Applause).
Mr. Blunden, in responding, said there was still something to be said for Clare -- he was the only peasant poet that England had produced and Helpston produced him. (Applause).
Cheers were given for Mr. Blunden at the conclusion of the proceedings.