John Clare Poems

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John Clare
John Clare (13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864) was an English poet, in his time commonly known as "the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet", born the son of a farm labourer at Helpston (which, at the time of his birth, was in the Soke of Peterborough, which itself was part of Northamptonshire) near Peterborough. His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be one of the most important 19th-century poets. At the age of seven Clare was taken from school to tend sheep and geese; four years later he began to work on a farm, attending in the evenings a school where he is said to have learned algebra. Since his formal education was brief, but also because he politicised the relationship between his local dialect and the increasingly standardised English in literary use, Clare resisted the use of fully standard grammar and orthography in his poetry and prose. Many of his poems incorporate terms used locally in his Northamptonshire dialect, such as 'pooty' (snail), 'lady-cow' (ladybird), 'crizzle' (to crisp) and 'throstle' (song-thrush). In his early adult years, Clare became a pot-boy in the Blue Bell public house and fell in love with Mary Joyce; but her father, a prosperous farmer, forbade her to meet him. Subsequently he was a gardener at Burghley House. He enlisted in the militia, tried camp life with Gypsies, and worked in Pickworth as a lime burner in 1817, but in the following year he was obliged to accept parish relief. Malnutrition stemming from childhood would be the main culprit behind his 5-ft stature and contributed to his poor physical health later on. Clare had bought a copy of Thomson's Seasons out of his scanty earnings and had begun to write poems. In an attempt to hold off his parents' eviction from their countryside home, Clare offered his poems to a local bookseller named Edward Drury. Clare eventually befriended the author of Seasons and introduced his poems to his cousin John Taylor of the publishing firm of Taylor & Hessey, who had published the work of John Keats. They issued the Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery in 1820. This book was highly praised, and in the next year his Village Minstrel and other Poems were published.

i am
I am - yet what I am, none cares or knows:
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am ... [read poem]
The thistledown's flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mou... [read poem]
whoso list to hunt, i know where is an hind
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain... [read poem]
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