You are here:

Poetry/John Clare's "Young Lambs"


Thanks for taking the time to read this.
I'm trying to find out the meaning of "trays" and "yoe" mentioned in the poem printed below. I can't find anything on the Internet.  
Have you come across this, please - and can you help?
Many thanks,

Young Lambs

by John Clare (1920)

The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two—till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead—and lets me go
Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.

Dear Nicola,

The word "trays" is possibly a country dialect for "trees"; "yoe" means "ewe."  In this poem, Clare has created a very pastoral, rural speaker.  Notice the many odd expressions: "by a many signs," "suns peep," "never stirs but baking lies."  

Hope this helps.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Linda Sue Grimes -- Classic Poetry Aide


Please be aware that my field of expertise is "Classic Poetry." I do not study and write about Hallmark-Card type verse, doggerel, or pornographic versification.

I assist students/readers in understanding the poems most widely studied in high school and college English classes, for example, Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death," A. E. Housman's "Loveliest of trees," Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," W. B. Yeats' "The Second Coming," Rabindranath Tagore's "The Journey," Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," Dana Gioia’s "Words." I direct students/readers to online poetry analyses and/or research sources.

I do not dispense advice on creative writing issues, such as critiquing poems or offering ideas for poems.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject:

Poetry is not so difficult . . . but the claim that "a poem can mean anything you want it to mean" is absurd . . . while there may be room for interpretation, poems are not like clay that you can shape into anything your choose . . . poets express feelings, thoughts, experience . . . the notion that anything a poet writes is as malleable as a piece of modeling clay is insulting and demonstrates ignorance of what poetry, nay language itself, is all about . . . language--including poetry and all other art forms--is about communication . . . if you denigrate "meaning" as a component of poetry, you fail to communicate . . . failure to communicate begins with the lazy mind . . .


2003 - present AllExperts volunteer

2006 - 2015 Suite101, later called

2015 - present, writer at HubPages


Maya Shedd's Temple

1967 Miami University, B.A. Major in German

1971 Ball State University M.A. German/English

1984 Ball State University M.A. English

1987 Ball state University Ph.D. American, British, World Literature, Rhetoric and Composition

Awards and Honors
The Daily Spirit

©2016 All rights reserved.