John Clare

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John Clare

Postby Raphael » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:00 pm

On the recommendation of Saturn I have looked up John Clare. I am in the library now and found an edition of his poems and a biography by Jonathan Bate. So some new reading tonight!
Is anyone else here familiar with this poet? I've had a quick read of his poems last night online- he seems quite good- it's a shame he's not more widely known.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: John Clare

Postby Saturn » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:12 pm

The Bate biography I would highly recommend Raphael.

Also if you can find the Penguin Classics' Selected poems
http://www.penguinclassics.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780140437249,00.html?Selected_Poems_John_Clare
that's an essential primer of Clare's work.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: John Clare

Postby Raphael » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:21 pm

The Bate biography I would highly recommend Raphael.


It says on the back of the book that "this is an exceptional biography..this unsually tactful and sympathetic book, tries, for once, not to claim Clare for any particular cause, but to see what he was trying to do in his own terms..superb and heartbreaking"

I hope that turns out to be true- this appeals to me.

The one I have from the library is the Carcanet edition. I'll certainly add the penguin to my Amazon basket! I must hurry as my friend is in the librray and we want to have coffee! Thanks for telling me about this poet Saturn- how long I would have gone without finding him I don't know- look how long it took me to find Junkets!
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: John Clare

Postby Saturn » Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:04 am

I hope you enjoy learning about Clare and reading his work, I found him through Keats, now you've found him as well. He's not an obscure poet, just one never mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries, which is a shame. Perhaps because he didn't die young, or wasn't as radical as Shelley, as tragic as Keats [though despite living much longer in some ways his life was even more tragic] or as famous and lauded as Byron.

He is a gem of the rarest kind, and those that love his work really love it, and as for the rest, that pleasure's yet to come...
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: John Clare

Postby glindhot » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:37 pm

I like John Clare! I like his simple, rhyming nature poems.
I have memorised two of them, "Hesperus" and "Swordy Dell".

He rarely wrote profound poems, but here is a fine one that is so:

"I Am"

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 shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

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;
And e'en the dearest -- that I loved the best --
Are strange -- nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd 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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Re: John Clare

Postby Raphael » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:03 pm

Saturn wrote:I hope you enjoy learning about Clare and reading his work, I found him through Keats, now you've found him as well. He's not an obscure poet, just one never mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries, which is a shame. Perhaps because he didn't die young, or wasn't as radical as Shelley, as tragic as Keats [though despite living much longer in some ways his life was even more tragic] or as famous and lauded as Byron.

He is a gem of the rarest kind, and those that love his work really love it, and as for the rest, that pleasure's yet to come...


I'm up to about chapter 3 of the biography and it's very interesting- the author once was a lecturer at the university I studied at. I've also started to read some of the poems. The one about the elm tree being cut down got me- I really identify with that as we have had some trees cut down in the park over the last few years and there has been a fight with the local people and the council to save the trees.

I was fascinated to see that John and Junkets wanted to meet and that John Clare was really upset when he heard Junkets was dying.They might have been good friends if they had met up.

What I admire about John Clare is the fact he really knew the value of folk traditions and sought to keep them alive, and he was against racism.The passage he wrote against the terrible treatment of Africans and his assertion skin colour is irrelevant as we are all human, made me really warm to him.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: John Clare

Postby Raphael » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:05 pm

glindhot wrote:I like John Clare! I like his simple, rhyming nature poems.
I have memorised two of them, "Hesperus" and "Swordy Dell".

He rarely wrote profound poems, but here is a fine one that is so:

"I Am"

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 shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

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;
And e'en the dearest -- that I loved the best --
Are strange -- nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd 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.


It's a fine one indeed. He had an interesting life didn't he?
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: John Clare

Postby glindhot » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:17 am

I have memorised two of them, "Hesperus" and "Swordy Dell".


Whoops! Read that as "Swordy Well".

I don't know whether to claim a typo arising from the keyboard proximity
of D and W, or maybe it's really a memory that ain't what it use t' be.
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Re: John Clare

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:57 am

What I have read of John Clare makes me want to know more. Alas, it's been a long time since I had the time to think of Clare. But this thread makes me want to soon. Thanks Raphael for pointing this out.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: John Clare

Postby Raphael » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:11 pm

BrokenLyre wrote:What I have read of John Clare makes me want to know more. Alas, it's been a long time since I had the time to think of Clare. But this thread makes me want to soon. Thanks Raphael for pointing this out.


Well, as we get more acquainted with Mr Clare we can keep the thread going and add new things. :D

Thanks to Saturn for mentioning him. :D
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: John Clare

Postby Pjerrot » Fri May 28, 2010 2:20 am

"The Gipsy Camp"

The snow falls deep; the Forest lies alone:
The boy goes hasty for his load of brakes,
Then thinks upon the fire and hurries back;
The Gipsy knocks his hands and tucks them up,
And seeks his squalid camp, half hid in snow,
Beneath the oak, which breaks away the wind,
And bushes close, with snow like hovel warm:
There stinking mutton roasts upon the coals,
And the half-roasted dog squats close and rubs,
Then feels the heat too strong and goes aloof;
He watches well, but none a bit can spare,
And vainly waits the morsel thrown away:
’Tis thus they live – a picture to the place;
A quiet, pilfering, unprotected race.

I first heard this sonnet on a radio literature program and thought it quite impressive. I had very briefly touched upon some of Clare's poetry but this single piece alone is worthy enough for another visit. Clare's sonnet has all the richness of a fine confectionary delight with the substance of a hearty, mid-winter meal.
Ah! I will taste that dew, for me ’tis meet,/And when the moon her pallid face discloses,/I’ll gather some by spells, and incantation.
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Re: John Clare

Postby chris » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:12 pm

another tragic story. his life was such a struggle. most of us now really do have it so easy.

grammar has never been my strong point, but im heartened by the fact that a poet as wonderful as john clare was similiarly terrible at it.
"ive been on the shelf too long" ('A Northern Soul' by the Verve)
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Re: John Clare

Postby Cath » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:43 pm

John Clare's former Northamptonshire home has been given £500,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will be used to safeguard the cottage's future. I've always wanted to visit it - hope to make it there someday!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22892374
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Re: John Clare

Postby Saturn » Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:27 pm

Good news!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: John Clare

Postby Raphael » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:33 pm

It deserves it. I want to visit his cottage one day also.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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