AQA John Clare Poetry

AQA John Clare Anthology. Each poem has a summary and the compare/contrast to other poems.

  • Created by: Bexie
  • Created on: 16-05-13 15:16

December from 'The Shepherd's Calendar'

A collection of memories from John Clare's childhood; featuring winter and the personified Christmas.


  • Memorialises tradition - similar to 'The Cottager' - both of these are also a ballad form
  • Busy community (seen in children sample "granny's cake", Milkmaids pick a "favoured swain"and the shepherds "kiss the giggling maid") - also seen in 'The Barn Door is Open'.
  • Adults are not supposed to long for simple joys (seen in "manhood bids such rapture dies") but they do. - similar to St Martins Eve, where "old men as wild as boys / feel nought of age creep o'er their ecstasies."


  • Negative view of religion (as seen in the harsh sounds of "comfort crowns the cottage scene. crown" = crown of thorns) - contrasts to 'The Cottager' - which has positive connotations towards religion.
  • Focuses on children's memories ("that long wi' childish memory stays") - contrasts to The Flitting, which focuses on his current instability ("Summer like a stranger comes")
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Sonnet: The Barn Door is Open

About the sense of community in a small village/rural society.


  • Poem is a vignette - similar to the 'Foddering Boy' (both of which are also Sonnets)
  • Use of rhyming couplets creates a fast place (exciting and busy OR disorientating). Similar to the rhyming couplets in Sonnet: I love to hear the evening crows go by'. Both provide a sense of completeness.
  • Children are juxtaposed with the adults. Also seen in 'St Martin's Eve', when the "old men" are like "wild boys"


  • Lack of punctuation (speeding up the poem) contrasts to 'Song: Say What is Love' (which has incorporated a great deal of caesura and end stopping).
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Sonnet: I dreaded walking where there was no path

About when he tresspasses across meadows and the feeling of guilt afterwards.

(an autobiographical poem)


  • Talks about the act of enclosure - also seen in The Lament of Swordy Well.
  • He "always feared the owner coming by" which is similar to 'The Gypsy Camp' where "the boy goes hasty" to avoid being seen.


  • Worries about nature getting him into trouble - "cautious" "wary" and "feared" show this. Contrasts to Summer Tints, where nature is his freedom and he can venture anywhere within it ("how sweet I've wandered bosom-deep in grain")
  • Contrasts to 'I found a ball of grass among the hay'. Both have rhyming couplets, but in this poem they express a tone of fear of getting caught (adding to the tension) and in 'I found a ball of grass among the hay', it expresses a fast paced sense of astonishment.
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Emmonsales Heath

About a piece of land near his house and the joy it gives him.


  • Personifies the heath ("I find thee lingering still") which is similar to the personification of land in 'The Lament of Swordy Well' ("I'm Swordy Well, a piece of land.")
  • "Nature its family protects / In thy security" personifies nature and shows that it helps those it knows well. Similarily, in 'The Gypsy Camp' the gypsies are "beneath the oak" and with "bushes close" which shows nature protecting the gypsies.


  • In 'December from the Shepherd's Calendar' we see the personification of Christmas, in this poem we also see the personfication of a season, however this time it is "Spring" who "drops round her earliest flowers".
  • "wild rose" shows an uncontrolled nature - a contrast to the enclosure act, as seen in many of his poems, including; 'I dreaded walking where there was no path' and 'The Lament of Swordy Well'.
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Summer Tints

About the countryside during summer - at a time when John Clare believes it to be at its best.


  • Colour and texture of the landscape is significant when describing nature ("bleachy brown", "checkered plain" and "streaking banks"), the use of colour is also seen in 'The Moors' with the use of colours "white" and "crimson". Both of these poems also use an army simile to describe the plants; "like splendid armies" (The Moors) and "like armies on parade" (Summer Tints). Shows a submission to nature.


  • About summer which contrasts to 'December from the Shepherd's Calendar'; which is purely about winter. December is a poem which is heavily focused on family and tradition, this is more specifically about nature, although there are still people within the poem (e.g. "shepherd's" or "maid and clown")
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Summer Moods

About John Clare's love for nature in the evening.


  • Personal to him is emphasised in repetition of "I love to", this personal reponse to nature is also seen in 'I love to hear the evening crows go by' which also has the use of "I love to".


  • We see summer during the night in this poem, a difference when compared to summer during the day in 'Summer Tints'.
  • John Clare seems to like the darkness here, stating "I love at eventide to walk alone" but in 'Emmonsales Heath' the sun is used to represent hope, purity and innocence.
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The Foddering Boy

Describes the struggle of a young boy, as he goes to feed the cows in bad weather. Nature is against him here, something untypical of Clare's poetry. However it could be suggested that nature is actually against the enclosure act ("within its circling fence").


  • Repetition of pauses show a struggle against nature, the repetition of pauses in 'I Am' also show a struggle, but this is a struggle against his poetic identity and a fear on not being remembered.
  • Both this poem and 'The barn door is open' are vignette's (short descriptive poems).


  • Harsh plosive and cursive sounds are used in relation to the struggle and winter ("blast that keenly blows") which constrasts to the softer, sibilance in Summer Tints ("pencil sweeps his shades")
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The Gipsy Camp

Talks about how the gypsies live and the hardships they face.


  • Gypsies described as "quiet, unprotected, pilfering race" but nature protects them (seen in "beneath the oak, which breaks away the wind". This is also seen in 'The Lament of Swordy Well' where "the gipsies' camp was not afraid; / I made his dwelling free."
  • The inconsistent rhyme scheme suggests gipsies don't follow rules, which is supported in 'The Lament of Sword Well' where "no paish bounds they like".


  • Lack of a consistant rhyme scheme could suggest that the gypsies don't follow the rules. In the poem 'I dreaded walking where there was no path' Clare doesn't follow the rules and tresspasses, but the poem still has a steady rhyme scheme.
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The Cottager

About a reserved man, living in the same place all his life. He is morally correct, with strong religious beliefs.


  • The is ignorant and unable to change his tradtional ideas ("views new knowledge with suspicious eyes") which is similar to the people in 'St Martin's Eve' who believe "ignorance is bliss."
  • Positive portrayal of traditional values throughout which is similar to the memorialising of traditional values in 'December from te Shepherd's Calendar'.


  • The man stays in the same place for his entire life ("he ne'er went fifty miles in all his life") and this contrasts to 'The Flitting' where John Clare "left mine own old homes of homes".
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from 'The Parish'

A satirical poem, based on the Pope's work. Mood is sharp and angry.



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St Martin's Eve

Narrative poem about St Martin's Eve - the final day of farming - and the celebration which accompanies the day.


  • Allusions to Mary Joyce ("who made one slip in love and played the fool") which is also seen in 'The morning mist is changing blue).
  • Bird symbolism ("happy as a lark") is seen in many other poems throughout, such as 'The Wren' or 'I love to hear the evening crow go by'.
  • All the community is involved ("Old women ... / dance with the girls.") which is similar to the sense of community in 'The barn door is open' ("calls to the maiden" and "the ploughmen")


  • References to fallen women ("who made one slip in love") and this contrasts to Mary Joyce, who Clare references to as "earth's tenants of clay" in 'Love and Memory' (showing Mary Joyce to be the perfect women, moulded just for him).
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The Wren

Celebrates the beauty of the robin and the wren; whilst disliking the nightingale and the cuckoo.


  • The protection of animals ("shelter from showers in huts") is also seen in 'The Foddering Boy' ("litters sweet hay").


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Cameron Inwood


Wow, these are amazing!! Thanks so much. Really struggling with John clare and these helped a lot!!

You don't by any chance have anything similiar for any of the other poems do you?? 

But thanks for these!



Thanks for these been looking for decent notes on john Clare! 

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