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  • Created by: Jaz Higgs
  • Created on: 27-01-14 11:37

The Barn Door Is Open

  •  The sonnet and the rhythm gives a childish feel of a nursery rhyme 
  • The rhythm also gives a sense of busy activity, replicating the noise of country life
  • Telling of countryside life, and what it was like for the children
  •  Ends with a couplet, like all sonnets, which makes it end with a sense of harmony 

This simple sonnet does little more than list typical country images and its jaunty tetrameter robs it of the gravity usually associated with the sonnet form. However, though it is not one of Clare’s more profound works, it would be a mistake to disregard this poem. The details with which he characterises his villagers and scenes are so meticulously chosen that the scenes almost have the force of vignettes and the lines are carefully crafted.

The correlation of the people, animals and implements is also highlighted by the poet’s use of caesura in every line. The industriousness of the village is underlined by the repetition of ready to’, qualifying the barn door and the wagon. This suggests a group of people which is always effective and on the go, so much so that even the buildings and the vehicles themselves are on the alert, eager to be filled.  

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The Wheat Ripening

  • Sound: “lark’s ditty”, “cheering”, “whistling toils”
  • Details in colour: “rusty brown”, “mellow grey"
  • Iambic pentameter, which is the metre traditionally used when the subject matter is  meaningful. This is an altogether more sophisticated poem because of the way in which he accurately captures a series of moods.  

The poem begins with an evocative account of the colours in the landscape. The colours are very specific: ‘rusty brown’, ‘barley’ which ‘bleaches’ and ‘mellow grey’ give an impression of a rich but muted palette. Other striking visual images occur further on in the poem where the ‘light of waking day’ is described, again very precisely, as ‘mealy’ which skilfully captures the pale and mottled appearance of the dawn and where the youthful appeal of the milkmaid is enhanced by the ‘glittering dewdrops’ etc. 

The reflective character of the poem is emphasised by a rather diffuse rhyme scheme which forces the reader to concentrate. Even the last two lines seem a little inconclusive: sonnets generally end in rhymed couplets. A number of sophisticated poetic devices are employed with confidence: Clare uses alliteration (for example ‘barley bleaches’, ‘sweet … smooth) to emphasise his most vivid images. He also uses a combination of alliteration and assonance in ‘Making life light with song’.

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Landscape Laughs In Spring

  • Once again Clare presents us with very vivid pictures of natural scenes but he does not seem quite so sure of his focus here: the conclusion that it is possible to ‘drink a Winter memory of May / When all the season’s joys have ceased to be’ is a little lame.
  • The fact that this poem is not titled suggests that Clare was perhaps not sure of what it was about (though this is only true of some of his untitled poems).
  • His usual iambic pentameter is accompanied by a less tight rhyme scheme which emphasises the poem’s reflective character and fails to conclude the poem on a summative couplet.
  • However, the poem has some pleasing lines and the images of the Fenland landscape in the first seven lines are particularly evocative
  •  “landscape laughing”- personification
  • “swarming cowslips”- use of plants which are flowering in spring, and they’ll be used to create food and wine, connecting Spring with Winter, which the whole poem does as a whole 
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