Thursday, 13 July 2017

"I Am" by John Clare - to Mark his Birthday Today, Born 13 July 1793

Wikimedia, Public Domain

Today, 13th July, is the birthday of Romantic poet John Clare, who was born in Helpston, Northamptonshire, in 1793 and died in 1864. He was the son of a farm labourer and his poems were generally rural.

He was a depressed, impoverished, insane and, sadly for him, unrecognised for his poetry in his lifetime.

Here's his most famous poem I Am, written when he was confined in the General Lunative Asylum in Northampton.

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 dream,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems
Even the dearest, that I love the best,
And strange - nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has 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.

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