First Love by John Clare

Analysis of the poem as well as its themes and deeper meanings!

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Stanza 1

  • Regular rhyme scheme - ABABCDCD
  • Tetrameter: 4 stressed, 4 unstressed beats
  • 'struck' - pain, powerful word
  • 'so sudden and so sweet' - unexpected, sibilance emphasises speed of emotion
  • 'sweet flower' - beauty, grace, natural beauty, simile
  • 'stole' - negative word, no control of his love
  • 'pale as deathly pale' - simile, repetition, pale -> death, unhealthy
  • 'legs refused' - personification, no choice
  • 'what could I ail?' - illness, could be good or bad love, rhetorical question
  • 'turned to clay' - statuesque, life has stopped, connotations or death
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Stanza 2

  • Alternating tetrameter and trimeter (3 stressed, 3 unstressed beats)
  • 'blood rushed' - blushing, enjambement
  • 'took my sight away' - so beautiful, turned blind with love
  • 'trees and bushes' - nature -> beauty, vague and general place
  • 'midnight at noonday' - everything has turned dark apart from her
  • 'Words from my eyes' - no words are needed, look of love
  • 'spoke as chords' - like a musical instrument -> beautiful, simile
  • 'blood burnt' - pain and suffering
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Stanza 3

  • First two lines are trimeter
  • Rest of stanza is alternating tetrameter
  • 'love's bed always snow?' - rhetorical question, snow is cold -> cruel, white -> angelic, pure
  • 'silent voice' - nervous to speak to her
  • 'love's appeal' - personification
  • 'never saw' - most beautiful person he has ever seen
  • 'left its dwelling-place' - left home due to new-found place
  • 'can return no more' - powerful effect on him
3 of 4

Whole Poem

  • Regular rhyme scheme - ABABCDCD
  • The changing/struggling feelings of the speaker are mirrored in the variations in the rhythm
  • The poem is equivocal (can be read in two different ways: either positive or negative)
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