Archive fordesembre, 2010

His poetry

What about the rest of his poetry? Does it also show the mental problems he had? Or does it reflect the fact that he was grown up in a rural life? For answering this, I will show you some poems.

I tried to choose the poems that best exemplify this. And I think that it also depends on the time he wrote them, but in general, I think that nature is very present in his poetry. Specifically, in his early life the nature is much more present, then he also wrote about love, and obviously at his last years, as he was despressed he wrote about death, as we’ve seen in the analysis of the poem I am.

Here, is the poem The Instinct of Hope. You can also hear it in youtube.


The Instinct of Hope

Is there another world for this frail dust
To warm with life and be itself again?
Something about me daily speaks there must,
And why should instinct nourish hopes in vain?
‘Tis nature’s prophesy that such will be,
And everything seems struggling to explain
The close sealed volume of its mystery.
Time wandering onward keeps its usual pace
As seeming anxious of eternity,
To meet that calm and find a resting place.
E’en the small violet feels a future power
And waits each year renewing blooms to bring,
And surely man is no inferior flower
To die unworthy of a second spring?


Here there is a poem in which we observe how the nature is very present:


The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
And, if the sun looks through, ‘tis with a face
Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon,
When done the journey of her nightly race,
Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place.
For days the shepherds in the fields may be,
Nor mark a patch of sky – blindfold they trace,
The plains, that seem without a bush or tree,
Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.
flaps her grey wings in the doubling light;
The ho
rse jay screams to see her out so soon,
And small birds chirp and startle with affright;
Much doth it scare the superstitious wight,
Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay;
While cow-boys think the day a dream of night,
And oft grow fearful on their lonely way,
Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.

The timid hare seems half its fears to lose,
Crouching and sleeping ‘neath its grassy lair,
And scarcely startles, tho’ the shepherd goes
Close by its home, and dogs are barking there;
The wild colt only turns around to stare
At passer by, then knaps his hide again;
And moody crows beside the road forbear
To fly, tho’ pelted by the passing swain;
Thus day seems turn’d to night, and tries to wake in vain.

The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon,

Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings
Its murky prison round – then winds wake loud;
With sudden stir the startled forest sings
Winter’s returning song – cloud races cloud,
And the horizon throws away its shroud,
Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye;
Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd,
And o’er the sameness of the purple
Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.

At length it comes along the forest oaks,
With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high;
The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks,
And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly,
While the blue hawk hangs o’er them in the sky.-
The hedger hastens from the storm begun,
To seek a shelter that may keep him dry;
And foresters low bent, the wind to shun,
Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher’s muttering gun.

The ploughman hears its humming rage begin,
And hies for shelter from his naked toil;
Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin,
He bends and scampers o’er the elting soil,
While clouds above him in wild fury boil,
And winds drive heavily the beating rain;
He turns his back to catch his breath awhile,
Then ekes his speed and faces it again,
To seek the shepherd’s hut beside the rushy plain.

The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat
The melancholy crow – in hurry weaves,
Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat,
Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves,
Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves.
There he doth dithering sit, and entertain
His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves;
Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta’en,
And wishing in his heart ‘twas summer-time again.

Thus wears the month along, in checker’d moods,
Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms;
One hour dies silent o’er the sleepy woods,
The next wakes loud with unexpected storms;
A dreary nakedness the field deforms –
Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight,
Lives in the village still about the farms,
Where toil’s rude uproar hums from morn till night
Noises, in which the ears of Industry delight.

At length the stir of rural labour’s still,
And Industry her care awhile forgoes;
When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil
His yearly task, at bleak November’s close,
And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows;
When frost locks up the stream in chill delay,
And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes,
For little birds – then Toil hath time for play,
And nought but threshers’ flails awake the dreary day.


And here we have a poem in which, as the title says, it talks about love, a very common topic on the Romantic poets:

First Love

I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet.
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower 
And stole my heart away complete. 
My face turned pale, a deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked what could I ail
My life and all seemed turned to clay. 
And then my blood rushed to my face 
And took my eyesight quite away.
The trees and bushes round the place 
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start.
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.
Are flowers the winter’s choice
Is love’s bed always snow
She seemed to hear my silent voice 
Not love appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling place
And can return no more.


Comments (1)




In this paper, I learned a lot of things about John Clare, specially by analysing his poem I am and also by looking at his other poems. In general, there is nothing that has surprised me in a special way, because I already knew that as a Romantic poet he would talk about nature and love, and moreover knowing that he was a peasent and he was a famous poet because of that, it is not an extraordinary thing that he talks about those topics in his poems. But, on the other hand, I didn’t expect that he would be also known because of his madness.

As I read, he suffered from a depression so his mind might not be well-balanced, but surprisingly enough his most famous poems were written in those years. The most of them was I am. It was full of contradictions, and it also talked about death by using metaphors so it is a bit ambiguous. In this paper I tried to analyse it the best I could, and by following my feelings when I read it. The thing is that, in my opinion, analysing a poem can be very subjective, because it can be viewed differently, not only depending on the people who read it, but also depending on the period of your life you are living. You can identify with it if you are sad, and you take this interpretation, or by the contrary, you can by no means feel identified with it because you are not living anything similar to that. Apart from that, the metaphors can be interpreted in different ways. But the truth is that, specially in this case of the poem I am, the topic of the death is very present.

Also, in his other poems he dealed with other Romantic topics such as love, nature… I think the topic of the poem is very related with the period of time he was living. For example at the first years he was starting to write poems, the topic of nature was very present, and we have a lot of examples of it, in many poems, that I also showed to you in the paper, although there are many more. And in his middle age, or when he was young and find his first love, he talked about this topic too. As he was in love, I think, he was more propitius to write about love.

And, the most controversial topic was that about his madness. As I said, he suffered from depression. Many people defend the idea that he was insane. And by reading the poem, you can observe some things that could contribute to this idea, if you interpret they as so. But if you are more rational, and you think that he just was depressed, and as he was an old person, he though about death more than a young boy could do, you could interpret his supposed madness, just as something that a depressed person could say.

To sum up, I think that doing this paper, made me consolidate the knowledge I already knew, and moreover, learn something else about him, but that I would always have the doubt about if he was crazy or just ill. Not only that, I also saw the way he wrote and therefore, the way Romantic poets generally wrote. So it was a good way of reading poetry.



Analysis of the poem

I’m going to analyse one of the most famous poem, if not the most famous, of Clare’s poetry. Here it is the poem, you can listen to it while you read it.

I am

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
And e’en the dearest–that I loved the best–
Are strange–nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil’d or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below–above the vaulted sky


I chose this poem, because I though it was the one that illustrates better what people used to say about his mental health, that’s to say, his madness or insanity. He wrote it at his last years, when he was in the asylum, and when his supposed insanity was most accurated.This is the first thing that came to my mind when I first read it. As it is said, the first impression when reading a poem is very important. And then when you read it twice you realize something new, that you hadn’t until that moment, and it continues so, the more times you read it.

So, my personal experience with this poem was the following: just reading the first line I had a doubt about if he was a self-confident person, and he doesn’t mind what people think of him, or to the contrary, if he was a low self-esteem person. But at the same time, when he says “My friends forsake me like a memory lost;” It made me feel a kind of sadness, because it seems as if his friends forgot him, and he is totally alone in the world. Or, perhaps, he is very independent, so he doesn’t need anybody to cares about him. But, definetly, I opt for the first option, because he might be in the asylum when he wrote it, and he sometimes might feel sadness and loneliness.

Another thing that caught my attention was that he repeated four times the words “I am” just in the first paragraph. I don’t know if it is something that contributes to the rhythm of the poem or if it is just because he wanted to emphasise that he is alive, that he exists, as the famous quotation “I know, therefore I exist”.

In the second paragraph I observe a lot of contradictions like “the nothingness-the living” or “waking-dreams” that seem to be related with the contrast between life and death. And also, a huge sadness because he has lost his love for himself and his life, as he says “the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems”. It seems that he doesn’t have a single pinch of self-esteem. Maybe it is due to the loneliness he was buried in.

And finally, in the third and last paragraph, it reminds me somewhere that never anyone has stayed in; this place could be an imaginary place that the poet invents in order to create a feeling of uncertainty. The reader, I imagine, is a bit disconcerted when reading those lines. And then, he clings to his faith in God, and appeals to what should, or shouldn’t be done; what it is correct or wrong.

When he says: “And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept” can be seen as death or a grave, in a metaphoric way. And when he mention “untroubling and untroubled” he may refer to his friends as they gave him problems, or he had worried about them, and then, if the’s death he won’t worry about them anymore.

Related to the form, as you see, it is divided into three paragraphs and each of them has six lines. Regarding the metrics of the poem, I can observe that it is a very linear poem, it doesn’t have many changes in the form. And it follows a very similar line durinf all the poem.

This is my interpretation of the poem, I don’t know if it would be in the right direction or not, but it is what I understood while reading it. All along the poem we observe a lot of contradictions and he also plays with ambiguity, which allows the reader to do a free interpretation of the poem. It might be because the topic he is dealing with, is a bit sensitive. At the same time, I think that if someone is feeling sad or depressed, it is quite normal that he writes this type of poems, so the feelings it shows are those that a normal person has when he is not in his best moment. So if we see it this way, the topic of his madness wouldn’t be very reliable.




Firstly, we have to take into account that we are trying to analyse a Romantic poet, so now I will try to contextualise him and why his poetry is based on nature. The Romanticism was a movement that emerged against the ideals of the Enlightenment, which was an intellectual movement in which the reason was the main reliable source. So, the Romantics got tired of the insistence on reason and searching the truth so they decided to focalise on beauty.

Romanticism, specially romantic poetry, has his basis on the union of the human being and nature. Their poetry shows that reason was not their main inspiration, but it used to be intuition. Moreover, they desestimate the urban way of living. They loved freedom, and love. Their main topics were those, as well as nature, and beauty. They used to show their feelings and emotions through their poetry, in order to create art.

The most successful and known poets of these time were the following: William Blake, William Wordworth, Samuel Taylor, Coloridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. So, as you see, John Clare, is not usually mentioned as one of the most successful poets, and why is that? Well, in order to know that, we have to learn a little about how his life was.

John Clare was the son of a farm labourer, and he was also an agricultural labourer while still a child. He had a rural chilhood and spent most of his life in the countryside, that’s why most of his poetry is based on nature. In addition, he is considered one of the most powerful rural poets. It is said that when he was older, he became insane. One of the reason of that could be his malnutrition.

His poetry started to became well-known and so he started to earn more money, but it was not enough for him. Then his health began to suffer, so he fell into depression, and his poetry started to be less sold. After his death he spent some years in an asylum, where he wrote his most famous poems, and also re-wrote some Byron’s poems and sonnets. It was when he was old that his insanity became more pronounced.

So we can deduce that his style was due to his way of life (rural life), and even to his “madness”, apart from the historic period that he had to live, I mean, the Romanticism movement and beliefs may have influenced him; his way of thinking and therefore his poetry. And, ifnot you just have to judge yourself.




The most successful and known poets of the Romanticism were the following: William Blake, William Wordworth, Samuel Taylor Coloridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. So, you would be asking… and why John Clare was your choice, instead of one of these last mentidoned? Well… it’s easy! My second choice of the same author was due to many factors. First of all, I had already an idea about his life and how he was through the amount of biographies I read before. So it would be easier to me to continue with analysing his work. But, the most important factor was that I was very curious about how he would wrote and the main topics he would use. Furthermore, what struck me the most was the fact that he was a peasent, I mean, his origin was not the same as the other authors, he cames from a very humble family. (We don’t have any photo, because at his time photographies didn’t exist.) And then he became very famous just by working very hard, and of course, because he was a very talented poet.

Then, my purpose of this paper is to show you the way John Clare wrote. And not only that, I also want to know by myself if the information that many people share on the internet about his health is based on something real or not. So, by analysing his poems I think I could know more about these topics and, about himself. But the only doubt I have is that, in my opinion, a poem is very subjective, I mean, someone can understand a thing by reading a line, and other one can understand totally the opposite. So, I don’t know if when I read the poem I would be in the right direction or not, but I will try to do my best.