John Clare

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A Country Village Year: The Foddering Boy

  • A boy folds his arms to keep out the cold while running across the snow.
  • The cattle in the fireld are expected to be fed and wait impatiently for the boys arrival.
  • The rhyme scheme continuity makes the verses flow.
  • No volta
  • Almost photographic represenation of the countryside which is a typical technique used by Clare
  • Clare has removed the persona of the speaker in order to focus on the subject of the poem
  • Repetition of snow echoes the coldness
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A Country Village Year: The Gypsy Camp

  • Gypsies make food over a coal fire.
  • They are regarded by the poet as worthy of sympathy but they aren't romanticised. T
  • hemes of lonliness and isolation.
  • Loco descriptive and also no rhyme-freedom the gypises and Clare.
  • Sonnet
  • The snow isolates the forest where the gypsies have set up camp
  • Clare says how the gypsies only take what is required from nature and nothing more
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A Country Village Year: The Cottager

  • The poet describes an old man who lives in a cottage.
  • The un-named character has a close relationship to nature
  • The cottagers life is regular, monotonous and afraid of change.
  • Man with firm moral views.
  • Ideologically conservartive and a symbol of the changing countryside.
  • He compares the new vicars sermons with the old vicars sermons and complains that the new vicar;s are full of theology and theological terms that he doesn't understand.
  • He does not like war, however he enjoys the pictures and the stories of the British Millitary success in the imperial war, pointing to the inconsistancy of particular views
  • Iambic Pentameter 
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Birds and Beasts: The Wren

  • Considered sacred and regarded as the wife of the Robin in British folk law
  • Clare wonders why the Nightengale and the Cuckoo are so popular in literature, when the Robin and the Wren are so popular
  • The poem is opened by asking two questions, the first which remains  unanswered which is use of rhetoric, regular technique used by Victorians.
  • Robin and the Wren are his favourite
  • Reminds Clare of happier times
  • Memoiries are personified
  • Sonnet
  • taste is caught like an infection rather than conciously chosen 
  • Sheep or cows placed to lead others would wear a bell that would urge the others to follow and iti is this leading or first place that Clare is suggesting for the Wren 
  • this personificaiton of memory in "crowds" is a typical use of imgery and celebrates the role of the imagination and memory to evoke happiness and wonder
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Birds and Beasts: Among the Orchard Weeds

  • An old hen causes a nuisance by laying her eggs in random places
  • Both a servant girl and a young boy search in vain for the eggs
  • Rhyming couplet emphasises that this is the conclusion of the tale which is resolves when the hatched chicks come chirping to the door.
  • Hen mocks the servants "cackling" at them, almost ridiculing the servants that they cannot find the nest
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Birds and Beasts: The Ants

  • Clare wonders whether ants have developed social, political and linguistic system that may like them to a fairy era
  • Ants are so ordered
  • Langiage is too sophisticated for humans to understand
  • The poem highlights how little people know about nature
  • The natural world is often linked to the "Golden Age" or The Eden -- also references to the classical world
  • The idea of wonder is connected for Romantic poets with the idea of "awe" meaning the response you feel when confronted with the sublime 
  • A sense of loss is subtly evoked in the final line 
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Love: First Love's Recollection

  • Clare suggests he will never forget his first love
  • Time has, however, changed everything betweemn them
  • Bibliographical
  • Clare concludes with the flowers metaphor suggesting that their love was like on of the many spring buds that do not mature into a flower
  • Comparison on every line between love and the lives of flowers and plants.
  • Clare uses a balanced line in stanza four to show how mutual their relationship was "How loath to part, how fond to meet," and his sadness as its loss dominates the central stanzas.
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Love: Say What Is Love

  • The poet explores the nature of love and finds it hard to define
  • Raises the question of the paradoxical nature of love
  • Fame turned out to be as fleeting as love, symbolised here by the rose petal, the rose being the traditional symbol for love
  • Clare uses the image of fading for the rose and the sunbeam in order to stress the difficulty of attaching a meaningful definition of love. This image also appears in the first stanza of FIRST LOVES RECOLLECTION
  • Written in rhyming couplets and in iambic tretameter
  • Contain a caesura-a pause indicated with a dash, emphasising the question being raised in the first half of the line is answered in the second
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Love: An Invite to Eternity

  • The poet asks a maiden whether she is prepared to share his life, even though it is dark and nightmarish
  • Repetition enforces the insistent questioning
  • The journey and landscape in the poem reflects Clare's lack of identity
  • Melancholy is characterised in biblical and psychological terms with reference to also the natural world
  • Invitation extended by the poet is an invitation of marriage
  • Offers an honest, soul-bearing vision of what loife with the poet will be life: dark, this darkness stands for melancholy
  • Similar to I AM
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John Clare Poet: I Am

  • In this short and powerful poem the poet contemplates personal identity and loneliness, and yet, paradoxically a need to be alone
  • He longs for the peace he found in childhood, and to be at one with God
  • Poem is concerned with idenity which also related to AN INVITE TO ETERNITY
  • Deals with mental anguish and the despair accompanied by fear of insanity
  • Use of what distances Clare as the narrator from the audience reflecting how alone he actually feels which also impresses on the reader that Clare is imagining himself as merely an object rather than a subject
  • In much of the poetry written prior to I am, Clare is concerned with being forgotten -- here he confirms his fears were true
  • Iambic Pentameter
  • Theme of Identity
  • "I am the self consumer of my woes," that he is simply alone with his grief or woes are the source of his poetry 
  • Similar imagery used in I am to The Seaboy on the Giddy Mast 
  • Touch of irony as he wishes to be remembered however seeks solitude and isolation from humanity 
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John Clare Poet: Memory

  • Petrachan sonnet which fittingly is connected with the idea of unrequited love
  • Iambic pentameter
  • Repeated words "would," strong desire not to be forgotten
  • Clare does not simply want to be remembered by nature
  • He wants specifically to be remembered by people who knew him
  • Wander is interesting because it suggests chance or an action that is not deliberate, wondering is a key concept in romantic poetry reflecting the wondering mind or freedom of the imagination 
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John Clare Poet: The Seaboy on the Giddy Mast

  • Ballad
  • Undulating rhyme scheme reflecting the motion of the waves
  • Use of evocative imagery in the title suggesting a vulnerable youth swaying at the mercy of the elements
  • Lexis choice reflect how little control the boy has 
  • Repetition of the word "inconstant" reinforce the unpredictable and tempestuous nature of Clare's feelings about his life 
  • Imagery of the sea is an extended metaphor which reflects the ideas of youthful dreams being overwhelmed by storms 
  • Sea = symbolic for the presentation of his life 
  • Ending stanza's offer a melancholy feel as if they cannot be answered to the poets satisfaction 
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Loss and the Politics of Nature: The Fallen Elm

  • Iambic pentameter encourages a slower/rhythmic piece
  • Highlights Clare's relationship with nature
  • The elm has a comforting effect on Clare as it metaphorically fights againsts the wind
  • Ending line highlights how the comfort is beyond description 
  • "Fallen," highlights how this is a reflective piece on the past
  • Juxtaposition of the past and present making the poems politica
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Loss and the Politics of Nature: The Lament of Swo

  • Ballad, the poem is a lament
  • Prosopopoeia: voice attached to the land/well, Clare gives the poweless a voice
  • The well is a symbol of the simple hardworking people
  • Iambic tet/trimeter (alternative) rising and falling
  • Greed linked to progress and Clare also dehumanises the exploiters
  • Clare tries to evoke anger and shock
  • "Tasteless tykes," are the businessmen 
  • "Gaunt," and "dread," have harsh vowel sounds reinforcing starvation 
  • "Delve," and "tear," language of exploitation
  • "Dull suit I wore," prisoners costume highlighting the removal of freedom 
  • Words such as "mun" and "clack" suggests the local dialect are important elements of the poem as it is regarded as a exercise in giving a voice to the voiceless or dispossessed in the countryside 
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Loss and Politics of Nature: Remembrances

  • Last three lines evokes a startling image of vulnerability
  • "Silence sitteth" extended vowel sounds which add a quiet tone to the piece
  • "Far away," thought melencholy tone 
  • Severely idealises nature 
  • "Axe of the spoiler and self interest fell a prey:" links to The Lament of Swordy Well
  • Clare highglight the loss of childhood innocence, imagination and freedom due to industrialisation and enclosure
  • Reflects on his closeness of child with nature, which is then juxtaposed with the unpleasant imagery which is linked to enclosure and the executions of the land workers 
  • Celebration of childhood and loss of imagination and beauty 
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Birds and Beasts Summary

This selection is characterised by highly detailed and personal accounts of the natural world. Clare's poetry about nature often reflects his concern for the human world such as the sonnet "among the orchard weeds," where Clare considers the work of an old mother hen cunningly concealing her eggs from the farm workers until they hatch. This is a reflection on defiance on the part of the vulnerable and exploited and parental love.

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John Clare, Poet Summary

These poems focus on Clare himself as a man as well as a poet. They are significant because they represent a tendency in Romantic poetry to focus on issues that are deeply personal to the poet, suggesting something special about the artists that seperates them from ordinary people. Among the themes associated with this section are: identity, or insecurity associated with Clare's identity, the way the poet wishes to be remembered, reflections on the difficulties and fears associated with his life, what is truly valuabke accoring to the poet and the poets need for peace and solitude in communion with nature. 

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