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I Am! by John Clare

“I Am!”, one of the best-known poems of John Clare, was written sometime between 1844-45. It was originally published in 1848. Clare, in this poem, pours open his vessel of feelings in front of readers. He describes in the most unguarded selection of words the plight of his aching heart. It is, however, unavoidably a song of sadness and lament—of death, disenchantment, and dishevelment. Glee and grief overlap and intertwine in Clare’s poem, both, in turn, intensify the depths of the other. His voice is confessional, and the poem speaks about his troubled sense of selfhood. His ideas echo through the walls of insanity, miraculously inspiring the audience even centuries later.

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  • Read the full text of “I Am!” below:
I Am!
by John Clare

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 shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled 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.

- from The Selected Poetry of John Clare (2003)
Analysis of I Am! by John Clare


Summary

John Clare’s most famous asylum poem, “I Am!” or “Lines: I Am,” as the very name suggests, is in its original form a dedication to the poet’s own self. Clare battles the consequences of his ailment in the poem by trying to assert his identity and believing that he will eventually find eternal peace. The poem constantly meanders between self-pity, wallowing, and the subject of grave abandonment. This makes it a remarkable and exceptionally noteworthy example of Romantic poetry. Even more so, as it goes beyond the obvious and meticulously explores the poet’s self as well as his place in the physical world. 

In the first stanza itself, the reader gets a glimpse of the kind of suffering that the speaker has been subjected to. His demeanor and the self-indulgent nature of the verse, right from the opening phrase “I am—” is at once both valiant and extremely fragile. It is as if the poetic persona is only holding by a thread and is on the verge of breaking apart, but he just does not. Clare very cautiously illustrates how empty and meaningless his life seems in the absence of any humane warmth. This state of desolation, the lack of close friends, or any lasting companionship has evidently made him weary, and it has even reduced his being to mere nothingness.

This expression of the self is consistent throughout the poem. In fact, in the concluding stanza, Clare’s longings and desires only get sharper and more detailed. There is a kind of comfort and acceptance that the poet talks about in the last lines. Along with this, there is a sense of serenity that he weaves in through the mention of childhood, heaven, and nature that immediately relaxes the poem’s tone. It makes room for more tranquil emotions to step in. These ultimately help in bringing the poem closer to feeling like home. Clare’s final words are full of assertion where he believes that all his “woes” and worries will vanish when he is in heaven, closer to God.

Form, Rhyme Scheme, & Meter

Structure & Form

The poem “I Am!” is composed of three sexains (verse stanzas with six lines each) with a regular iambic pentameter. Though there is a clear division between the first and second stanzas, they are internally connected. The last stanza presents a shift from the depressing chain of thoughts in the first two stanzas. Clare uses the first-person point of view, beginning the poem with a capital “I.” The presence of a personal voice gives this piece an autobiographical outlook.

Rhyme Scheme

The first stanza has the ABABAB rhyme scheme, whereas the rhyme scheme in the second and third stanzas shifts to CDCDEE and FGFGHH, respectively. In the first stanza, the lines rhyme alternatively. The following stanzas contain the same alternative rhyme pattern, except the last two lines of each stanza that form a rhyming couplet. For instance, the last lines of the second stanza end with the rhyming pair “best” and “rest.”

Meter

The use of iambic pentameter gives the poem a definite direction. Iambic pentameter is one of the commonest meters in poetry as it is said to be the “ideal rhythm” for the spoken word. In this poem, as well, the rhyme scheme and meter are crucial as they set the pace of the narrative and give it a natural and clear intonation. Let’s have a look at the scansion of the poem:

I am/—yet what/ I am/ none cares/ or knows;

My friends/ for-sake/ me like/ a mem/-ory lost:

I am/ the self/-con-su/-mer of/ my woes

They rise/ and va/-nish in/ ob-li/-vious host,

Like sha/-dows in/ love’s fren/-zied sti/-fled throes

And yet/ I am,/ and live/—like va/-pours tossed

In-to/ the no/-thing-ness/ of scorn/ and noise,

In-to/ the li/-ving sea/ of wa/-king dreams,

Where there/ is nei/-ther sense/ of life/ or joys,

But the/ vast ship/-wreck of/ my life’s/ es-teems;

E-ven/ the dea/-rest that/ I loved/ the best

Are strange/—nay, ra/-ther, stran/-ger than/ the rest.

I long/ for scenes/ where man/ hath ne/-ver trod

A place/ where wo/-man ne/-ver smiled/ or wept

There to/ a-bide/ with my/ Cre-a/-tor, God,

And sleep/ as I/ in child/-hood sweet/-ly slept,

Un-troub/-ling and/ un-trou/-bled where/ I lie

The grass/ be-low/—a-bove/ the vaul/-ted sky.

Each line has a total of ten syllables. The stress falls on the second syllable of each foot. Therefore, the lines contain five iambs or metrical units with a rising rhythm. There are some occasional variations as well, such as in line five. Clare uses a spondee, “love’s fren-zied” to add a metric variation. He also uses the falling rhythm of trochees at the beginning of lines ten and eleven to reflect the speaker’s grief.

Literary Devices & Poetic Techniques

On a closer inspection of Clare’s “I Am!”, readers come across the use of the following literary devices and poetic techniques that are essential to the overall meaning.

Simile

A simile is a figure of speech in which two fundamentally distinct objects or concepts are compared specifically by using “like” or “as.” Clare extensively uses this device in “I Am!” to make the descriptions more vivid and give them some real depth. In the first stanza itself, there are three lines where the speaker compares himself to different ideas using “like.”

My friends forsake me like a memory lost:

In this line, the speaker says that he is more “like a memory lost” than merely a lost memory. The simile draws on the idea of abandonment or neglect. This makes it a little more intangible by comparing it to the obscure concept of forgetting.

Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes

Now, he mentions that his “woes” arrive and disappear like “shadows.” Apart from this, he also draws a line of comparison between himself and the “vapours” when he says:

And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.

These abstract parallels between “shadows,” “vapours,” and his own self further stress how he thinks of himself as more and more insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

Metaphor

Clare beautifully employs metaphors throughout the poem. This piece is filled with abstract yet alluring indirect comparisons that strengthen the speaker’s stance. They also make readers well aware of how bizarre a troubled mind could be. It is while reading the lines “Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,” “Into the living sea of waking dreams,”  and “But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems” that one can understand the speaker’s state of mind.

The comparisons used by Clare are often abstract, but they intensify the themes in the poem. His creative input also aids in adding layers of meaning to an otherwise mundane text. For instance, the phrase “self-consumer of my woes” presents a metaphysical comparison between woe, an abstract idea, and a material object that can be consumed.

Alliteration

The use of alliteration can be observed in the following instances:

  • none cares or knows”
  • friends forsake”
  • me like a memory lost”
  • live—like”
  • the dearest that”
  • sweetly slept”

The use of this poetic device usually adds a unique rhythm and smoothness to the lines. It makes the reading more lyrical and impactful, which gives the poem an edge. Alliteration makes the words almost catchy and attention-grabbing.

Repetition

Repetition almost does a similar job as alliteration. This device adds rhythm and flow to the poem. Other than that, repetition can also be used to highlight certain ideas or themes. It can help bring to light the important elements. In “I Am!”, Clare emphasizes the idea of selfhood. Therefore, there is a repetition of the pronoun “I” and the phrase “I am” throughout the poem. This frequent occurrence helps the reader recognize the poet’s unique voice. In the first line itself, Clare repeats the phrase twice:

I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;

This reinforces the sense of self. The use of the phrase at the beginning and then in the following lines also gives a distinct pattern and flow to the ideas portrayed by Clare. The pause right after the first “I am” or the interruption in the utterance is a very important aspect of this piece. It has an unsaid, honest, and almost rhetorical quality. The repetition of this phrase in lines three and six also stresses the importance of the speaker’s distinct personality.

Enjambment

Enjambment, in poetry, occurs when one line continues or runs on without any interruption to the next. Clare efficiently makes use of enjambment in this poem. It first occurs at the end of the first stanza where the poet continues the idea of being tossed into nothingness:

And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

The next time Clare uses this technique it is toward the end of the second stanza when the speaker describes how he feels that the people who were once dearest to him are now even “stranger” than strangers:

Even the dearest that I loved the best

Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

Anaphora

Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences. In this poem, Clare makes use of anaphora by repeating the phrase “I am.” The poem initiates with the use of this phrase and then it reappears in lines three and six:

I am the self-consumer of my woes—

And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

Therefore, a strategic repetition of this phrase gives a certain character to the poem. It conveys how the poet incorporates the theme of identity. This device also occurs as a trope of emphasis at the beginning of the second stanza:

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

Into the living sea of waking dreams,

Use of Dash (—)

Like Emily Dickinson, Clare employs dashes (—) in “I Am!”. This is one of the most striking features of the poem. The dash is used as a dramatic pause in a sentence or clause so that the reader can take a momentary breath before continuing. It isolates a phrase in a different fashion than a comma or colon. Clare begins the poem by saying:

I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;

This dash stresses how the speaker is interrupted even before diving into the details. He stops mid-sentence. This dictates how just saying “I am” is enough. There is also a sense of hesitation that comes up with this abrupt use of the dash. This tells how unnecessary the speaker thinks it is to confront the people who left him to be completely alone.

There are other instances where the poet successfully employs a dash to emphasize his points, such as in “And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed,” “Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest,” and “The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”

Line-by-Line Analysis & Explanation

Lines 1-6

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 shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes

And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

John Clare’s poem “I Am!” opens with a sort of hesitation, a simile for the friends who have forsaken the speaker, and a denigration of the memory of his loved ones. The first “I am” is accompanied by a dash as a result of this very hesitation. The speaker points out in these lines how there is actually no one he can confide in. He is indeed the “self-consumer” of his own “woes” and worries. There is nobody who knows his heart or even cares about him.

The next three lines of this stanza introduce abstract imagery of an “oblivious host.” The speaker informs readers about how his concerns and sorrows arrive and then “vanish” in thin air as they have nowhere else to go. It is here that Clare falls into the abyss of another abstraction even before his readers can digest the one that he introduced before. The speaker mentions, in tangled metaphors, the state of his mind.

These last lines demonstrate a strong preference for the transient rather than permanent items. There is a strong affinity that he feels toward shadows, vapors, and fluidity in general. The final line pays attention to the fact that he has survived despite the circumstances. This idea is further carried on to the next stanza.

Overall, this stanza reveals the speaker’s more profound and personal concern with human life and misery. It can be dissected as a distant generalization about life that has been altered to an independent voice speaking of his personal existence.

Lines 7-12

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;

Even the dearest that I loved the best

Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

In the second stanza, the speaker elaborates on the ideas that he only briefly introduced in the previous stanza. He still feels a sense of desolation and detachment. This, he portrays by mentioning the fact that he is alive like the “vapours” which are tossed into the “nothingness.” With these words, Clare wants to convey that he feels like he has been living in a void. A void that is filled up mostly with “scorn and noise.” In order to emphasize the trials and tribulations that he has faced on the cusp of declining mental health, he introduces overarching metaphors and the imagery of “shipwreck.” There is neither a sense of fulfillment nor happiness in his life.

Moreover, the constant struggle for survival in the absence of any human warmth has absolutely crushed the speaker’s self-esteem. The “living sea of waking dreams” and the “shipwreck” are both images that help the poet further his stance. They give off a sense of doom and an end-of-the-world atmosphere in the poem.

Going ahead, Clare brings back the concept of alienation and estrangement. He mentions how none of his near and dear ones are with him in his time of difficulty and distress. The speaker goes on to say that the people he loved the most, act so utterly cold that they seem “strange,” not just strange, but “stranger than the rest.”

He adds this clause after a dash because he did not originally expect his loved ones to act in such an unfeeling manner. The tone used in these last few lines portrays the melancholy of his situation in its most natural state. Bereft of the support of his own friends and family, the speaker is utterly vulnerable, anxious, and helpless.

Lines 13-18

I long for scenes where man hath never trod

A place where woman never smiled 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.

In this final stanza of “I Am!”, Clare turns to certain constructs, for instance, God, the “Creator,” time, and eternity to reconstruct his lost past and build on an inspirational future. Readers can find how Clare shifts from a predominantly spatial approach, in which time is consciously mitigated, to a temporal framework, where events only occur and pass humanity by.

The first few lines declare what the speaker “long[s]” for. He desires to be in an adobe where no man has ever traversed before; where no woman had ever “smiled or wept.” He wants to abide by the “Creator,” the Lord, in a place that he can truly call heaven. Furthermore, he dreams of leaving his troubled self behind on this earth. His imagination is transported to the days of innocent childhood when he slept sweetly without any concerns: “Untroubling and untroubled.”

This last stanza is way more relaxed and composed as compared to the other stanzas. Although this stanza deals with the grim subject of death, there is a certain hope that Clare incorporates. The culmination of his everlasting self (the soul) with the divine is also found very delicately illustrated here. This, therefore, turns out to be the point where the speaker finally merges two positive forces in his life together, i.e., nature and God.

In the final lines, Clare also voices how nature performs the function of an intermediator between humankind and their final destination—heaven. A conscious glance at the phrase “The grass below” on which he rests and the “vaulted sky” above leads us to the grave of the speaker. Clare informs readers in the most honest of words how it is only in death that he can find peace and tranquility. It is in the lap of nature, and nature alone, that he can be with the divine.

Themes

Abandonment

The sense of abandonment is one of the most prominent themes in “I Am!” by John Clare. Clare, right from the onset of the poem, declares that there is “none” that cares for him. The gloomy outlook of the speaker becomes more and more evident as readers move further into the poem. He confesses how he feels like a stranger to the people he is supposed to love and feel connected with. The bridge between his isolation and human connections widens as he indulges himself in thoughts of self-pity.

Moreover, the fear of being forsaken by his friends hovers over his already overburdened head. He explores the misery that a person faces when they live in the terror of being forgotten and left behind by the very people that they call their own.

Clare, due to his deteriorating mental health, spent a considerable amount of time in mental asylums. He had to experience entrapment and institutionalization where he was completely abandoned of all kinds of love and empathy. Thus the poem becomes an outlet for expressing his innermost fears and anxieties.

Grief

While traversing through the poem, it is indeed difficult not to stumble across the concept of unending lament and grief. The entire setup of this poem, in a way, is balancing on these very blocks. From the self-pity and estrangement that reveals itself in the first stanza to the grim and dreary idea of death that the poet romanticizes toward the end, there is an element of grief present everywhere.

The fact that there is such a hefty amount of loss present in this poem should not come as a surprise to readers. Clare lived a very troubled and difficult life. For most of his adulthood, he was in and out of asylums, and his mental health definitely acts as a major influence in his writing. He portrays his disbelief in happiness and love as he thinks that he continues to drown deeper and deeper “into the living sea of waking dreams.”

Nature & Death

Clare’s poetry is filled with different ideas related to nature. In his poem “I Am!” nature works as a comforting agent and a guiding force. It is in the lap of nature—in the grass—he imagines himself sleeping “untroubled.” He mentions the cool and calming grass below and the sky above him. This romantic portrayal of nature emits a pure and serene light of hope that imparts a sense of satisfaction to readers.

In the Romantic era, it was nature that came to the rescue of most poets and readers. Nature allowed them to escape from the conflicting miseries of the world. Therefore, on more occasions than not, it is nature that acts as an inspiration for Clare to move along and grow out of the clutches of his pessimistic thinking. Despite the positive influence of nature on Clare’s writing, it is nature alone that is seen at times as wrapped in the dark, ambiguous, and foggy imagery of this poem. For instance, by introducing the “vaulted sky,” Clare consciously bars the limits of the sky. This image clearly indicates the presence of a grave and the speaker imagines lying in it. In this way, the dreamy vision of the sky is shattered under the weight of death.

I Am

René Descartes, a 17th-century French philosopher, mentions through his famous thought prerogative that reason gives the soul the fundamentals of existence. As a whole, the poem “I Am!” challenges the certainty of the Descartian notion of “I think therefore I am.” Clare, through the intricate details of the poem, unsettles the idea of reason and logic when he describes his plight “like vapors tossed into nothingness.” From the beginning itself, he infiltrates a sense of doubt in readers by using the term “yet” as it glorifies the contested position of how he reflects upon his existence.

Moreover, the opening lines showcase a serious change of attitude. The poem begins with a strong conviction of the poet’s own identity and immediately sinks into a dilemma and loses its momentum. This piece also questions the perceptions of individualism. It uproots the essence of the otherwise conceived idea of the “self.”

Throughout the poem, Clare critiques and unfolds the rigid ideas of certainty that were widely accepted and celebrated through the age of reason and enlightenment. Clare is seen as troubled by the intriguing arguments posed against his identity. Therefore, he repeatedly returns to the existential questions of who he is, what he is, and why.

God

In contrast to the overall mood of “I Am!”, Clare expresses his optimistic sentiments by the end. Even though the speaker portrays grief as an undying emotion, he eventually resorts to the power of the almighty and the omnipotent force that he truly believes in. Clare summarizes the poem by emphasizing his desire to abide and obey the path that God has constructed for him. Despite his existential outlook on his life, he believes that the only place that he truly belongs is in the laps of nature. Even though he believes that it is practically impossible to reach such a destination, he continues to strive to get as close to the idea of salvation as he can. He truly upholds the fact that it is through this union with the “Creator” that all his miseries and fears will eventually fade away.

Historical Context

John Clare’s poem “I Am!”, also known as “Lines: I Am” was written in the British Romantic period, i.e., in late 1844 or early 1845. It was published for the world to witness in 1848 in the Bedford Times. The poem, in its right frame, also leads a mirror to look at it from the philosophical and intellectual context that is so contested: the famous Descartian notion of “I think therefore I am.” Clare penned this poem while incarcerated at the Northampton General Lunatic Asylum, cut off from his family and friends owing to the deterioration of his mental health. From considering himself as one famous literary figure to running away from the asylum, Clare completely lost his sense of self. This piece, set in its time and space, became a reflection of the poet’s poor mental health.

Question and Answers

What is John Clare’s most famous poem?

“I Am!” is considered one of the most renowned poems written by John Clare. The poem digs down the true miseries and sufferings of human life. It makes the reader confront the harsh realities of being “forsaken” and isolated from the people that they call friends and family. The poem touches upon the most intricate anxieties and pain of living with the fear of being left out. Moreover, the popularity of the poem comes from the fact that it is extremely easy to relate to in the current age.

Clare factors in religion, which also sympathizes with the readers’ sensibility. He wishes to unite with the “Creator, God,” and follow the path that He has laid down. Therefore, Clare resorts to a form of writing that reflects and connects with the thoughts and ideas of the general reader and thus adds to the popularity that the poem “I Am!” has already earned.

What is “I Am!” by John Clare about?

“I Am!” is a poem from the Romantic era. Therefore, it reflects the complex ideas of nature and one’s immediate surroundings. John Clare found writing poetry as a source of relief in the years of his deteriorating mental health. That’s why the poem also becomes reflective of the shattering consequences of institutionalization and the utter lack of empathy towards the people admitted into asylums.

This piece questions and unsettles the essence of identity and reason. It typically moves away from the established notions of the Age of Reason and Enlightenment, where Clare contests his own existence by saying “I am —yet.” The poem, in its entirety, is about the sense of loss one feels when they are abandoned and how it forces the individual to seek comfort in the laps of nature, and ultimately in God.

When was the poem “I Am!” written?

The poem “I Am!” was written during 1844-1845 when Clare was incarcerated in the Northampton General Lunatic Asylum, also known as Northampton County Asylum for his deteriorating mental condition. W. F. Knight, the house steward of Northampton Asylum transcribed the poem. It was originally published in the Bedford Times on 1 January 1848.

Why did John Clare write “I Am!”?

Through writing this poem, Clare documents the most vulnerable moments of his life that he spent sporadically within the suffocating walls of lunatic asylums. He wished for nothing more than to be remembered, not only by his current generation but also by his near and dear ones. The wish plunged headlong into the dismal abyss of abandonment. Clare had nothing left in the mundane world that he could call his own, except the faith in the afterlife and heaven. By penning down this confessional piece, Clare tried to depict his incarcerated self that helplessly shouted out loud his need for love and human companionship.

What is the meaning of the poem “I Am!” by John Clare?

As the title suggests, the poem “I Am!” by John Clare is skeptical of the existing notions of self. The true meaning of this piece lies in Clare’s unstable perspective regarding the generality of being. He voices his concerns over the forgettable existence that each human lives. He believes that the world is a “sea of waking dreams,” where nothing brings true happiness. Furthermore, he compares his life to a vast “shipwreck.” His desires stretch in the direction where he seeks comfort in living “untroubling and untroubled” and where he can rejoice with his “Creator.”

What type of poem is “I Am!” by John Clare?

The three-stanza lyric “I Am!” is partly a confessional text that allows readers to comprehend the sufferings and fears that John Clare had been through. Clare explicitly presents his deep frustrations and concerns. He gives a personal headway that gives readers the opportunity to connect with him more profoundly. He chooses to introduce himself in an autobiographical fashion. This provides the background of the institutionalization and entrapment that he felt for all the years that he spent in the mental asylums. Overall, this poem gives a glimpse of his declining mental health. It becomes a means for all the empathizing readers to connect with Clare.

Is “I Am!” by John Clare a sonnet?

“I Am!” or “Lines: I Am” cannot be considered a sonnet. A sonnet, by definition, is usually a poem that consists of 14 lines and is composed in iambic pentameter. Poems that are written in sonnet form traditionally consist of internal divisions, i.e., octave and sestet. This poem is divided into three stanzas of six lines each. Although the poem is written in a perfect iambic pentameter, its three six-line stanzas restrain it from coming under the sonnet category. But to be clear, John Clare did write another poem with the same title “I Am” (also known as “I Only Know I Am”), which is undoubtedly an example of a standard sonnet.

What is the message of “I Am!” by John Clare?

The poem, with its pessimistic approach, conveys the message of the comfort that one receives when one resides with God and in nature. Even though the text starts with a negative outlook toward life and human relationships, Clare takes a turn and poses the warmth that he desires and longs for in the lap of nature: “The grass below—above the vaulted sky.” The direct message that he wants to convey is that our lives on earth might be twisted in turns of ups and downs, but a sense of comfort can be found within these very walls of adversity and distress.

What is the theme of “I Am!” by John Clare?

The major themes of Clare’s poem are abandonment, alienation, grief, nature, death, selfhood, and God. The central idea of the poem revolves around a troubled speaker’s agony caused by the lack of human companionship. He somehow finds relief in the thoughts of the afterlife.

What does the “vaulted sky” mean?

The “vaulted sky,” as mentioned in the last line of the poem, is the speaker’s way of introducing a barrier. This barrier or covering is primarily seen as an indicator of the grave or the concept of death. In the last stanza, the speaker thinks about peacefully lying in his grave. He is of the opinion that although death shuts him to the enormous sky, it ultimately takes him closer to the blissful heaven.


Similar Poems about Identity & Grief


Useful Resources

  • Check Out Major Works by John Clare — This authoritative edition of Clare’s poetry and prose includes autobiographical writings and letters.
  • Check Out John Clare: A Biography — Explore the full life story of Clare told by his biographer Jonathan Bate. Bate published the first anthology of the peasant poet, The Selected Poetry of John Clare using the title of his best-known poem “I Am!”.
  • The Poem Aloud — Listen to this great reading of Clare’s poem by John Davies.
  • Who Was John Clare? — Read about the life of one of the major 19th-century British poets, John Clare.
  • About John Clare — Learn more about Clare’s life and his poetic works.

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