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Hail, humble Helpstone ... Where dawning genius never met the day, Where useless ignorance slumbers life away Unknown nor heeded, where low genius tries Above the vulgar and the vain to rise. --from "Helpstone" "I Am": The Selected Poetry of John Clare is the first anthology of the great "peasant poet"'s remarkable verse that makes available the full range of his accomplishmen Hail, humble Helpstone ... Where dawning genius never met the day, Where useless ignorance slumbers life away Unknown nor heeded, where low genius tries Above the vulgar and the vain to rise. --from "Helpstone" "I Am": The Selected Poetry of John Clare is the first anthology of the great "peasant poet"'s remarkable verse that makes available the full range of his accomplishments. Here are the different Clares that have beguiled readers for two centuries: the tender chronicler of nature and childhood; the champion of folkways in the face of oppression; the passionate, sweet-tongued love-poet; and the lonely visionary confined, in old age and senility, to asylums.


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Hail, humble Helpstone ... Where dawning genius never met the day, Where useless ignorance slumbers life away Unknown nor heeded, where low genius tries Above the vulgar and the vain to rise. --from "Helpstone" "I Am": The Selected Poetry of John Clare is the first anthology of the great "peasant poet"'s remarkable verse that makes available the full range of his accomplishmen Hail, humble Helpstone ... Where dawning genius never met the day, Where useless ignorance slumbers life away Unknown nor heeded, where low genius tries Above the vulgar and the vain to rise. --from "Helpstone" "I Am": The Selected Poetry of John Clare is the first anthology of the great "peasant poet"'s remarkable verse that makes available the full range of his accomplishments. Here are the different Clares that have beguiled readers for two centuries: the tender chronicler of nature and childhood; the champion of folkways in the face of oppression; the passionate, sweet-tongued love-poet; and the lonely visionary confined, in old age and senility, to asylums.

30 review for "I Am": The Selected Poetry of John Clare

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    John Clare has such a beautiful way of describing the natural world. The love and wonder come through in every word. And he uses such unusual words, too - they had to put a glossary in the back of this book for them. It's a trip to go through it. Clumpsing = numb with cold Crankle = bend, wind Crimped = wrinkled Crizzling = crisp, just frozen over Dithering = shivering with cold Drabbled = dirtied, splashed with mud Flaze = smoky flame Flusk = fly with sudden disordered motion Haynish = awkward, clumsy Ji John Clare has such a beautiful way of describing the natural world. The love and wonder come through in every word. And he uses such unusual words, too - they had to put a glossary in the back of this book for them. It's a trip to go through it. Clumpsing = numb with cold Crankle = bend, wind Crimped = wrinkled Crizzling = crisp, just frozen over Dithering = shivering with cold Drabbled = dirtied, splashed with mud Flaze = smoky flame Flusk = fly with sudden disordered motion Haynish = awkward, clumsy Jinny-Burnt-Arse = Jack-O-Lantern Mouldywarps = moles Pooty = snail And that's only some of them! Anyway, here's an example of his work: Snowstorm What a night! The wind howls, hisses, and but stops To howl more loud, while the snow volley keeps Incessant batter at the window pane, Making our comfort feel as sweet again; And in the morning, when the tempest drops, At every cottage door mountainous heaps Of snow lie drifted, that all entrance stops Untill the beesom and the shovel gain The path, and leave a wall on either side. The shepherd rambling valleys white and wide With new sensations his old memory fills, When hedges left at night, no more descried, Are turned to one white sweep of curving hills, And trees turned bushes half their bodies hide. John Clare

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ann Klefstad

    I do not know this collection, but John Clare's poetry is one of the most moving bodies of work anywhere. I feel much akin to Clare, as someone who emerged from the most backward of rural places, and who is haunted by the fact that that place made me, created my potentials, gave me its sensual and harsh nature, so I feel responsible to it. John Clare bore this burden much more heavily, and more responsibly, than I, as he was the only--the only--voice saying anything like what he said, and someho I do not know this collection, but John Clare's poetry is one of the most moving bodies of work anywhere. I feel much akin to Clare, as someone who emerged from the most backward of rural places, and who is haunted by the fact that that place made me, created my potentials, gave me its sensual and harsh nature, so I feel responsible to it. John Clare bore this burden much more heavily, and more responsibly, than I, as he was the only--the only--voice saying anything like what he said, and somehow noone really understood its import. In some ways he himself did, but his role was not one that could be borne alone, and it broke him. I first heard his name in a John Berryman poem, where Berryman calls him "that sweet man, John Clare." No better phrase, no better praise, could be devised.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    "I am--yet what I am, none cares or knows." I've been poking around in this handsome volume again this morning. In recent years, Clare has been re-discovered as a major minor poet in the tradition of 19th Century English poetry. What at first sight may seem simple, often rhyming lyricism, in fact conveys the depths of a man's mind and soul. Even though Clare was delusional and spent the last 20 years of his life in an insane asylum, his ground note is joy. On a socioeconomic note, Clare was a pe "I am--yet what I am, none cares or knows." I've been poking around in this handsome volume again this morning. In recent years, Clare has been re-discovered as a major minor poet in the tradition of 19th Century English poetry. What at first sight may seem simple, often rhyming lyricism, in fact conveys the depths of a man's mind and soul. Even though Clare was delusional and spent the last 20 years of his life in an insane asylum, his ground note is joy. On a socioeconomic note, Clare was a peasant laborer from an illiterate family.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    No one writes peasant poetry like John Clare. And sadly, no one writes peasant poetry anymore, probably a result of the dwindling peasant population. In all seriousness, this is an excellent collection of Clare's greatest poems. These poems are beautiful descriptions of nature and rural landscapes written with the passion and understanding that could only come from a personality obsessively dedicated to the documentation of everything his mind was capable of seeing and sensing. No one writes peasant poetry like John Clare. And sadly, no one writes peasant poetry anymore, probably a result of the dwindling peasant population. In all seriousness, this is an excellent collection of Clare's greatest poems. These poems are beautiful descriptions of nature and rural landscapes written with the passion and understanding that could only come from a personality obsessively dedicated to the documentation of everything his mind was capable of seeing and sensing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hana Pisklová

    "Even the dearest that I loved the best Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest." "Even the dearest that I loved the best Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lenora

    I did not expect to be so enamored with a wide range of emotions while reading Clare's poetry. To be frank, I was solely interested in his "asylum" works, and ended up falling in love with the entire assortment of poems.No one writes of the countryside better than John Clare. It's hard to believe he came from an illiterate family. Through peasantry, there was the birth of fine bucolic poetry! What also impressed me (and somewhat bewildered me) was the abrupt shift in tone and overall mood of his I did not expect to be so enamored with a wide range of emotions while reading Clare's poetry. To be frank, I was solely interested in his "asylum" works, and ended up falling in love with the entire assortment of poems.No one writes of the countryside better than John Clare. It's hard to believe he came from an illiterate family. Through peasantry, there was the birth of fine bucolic poetry! What also impressed me (and somewhat bewildered me) was the abrupt shift in tone and overall mood of his verse in response to his incarcerations. There's something about the combination of countryside and madness that is oddly appealing. I recommend this book to any lover of rural poetry. It is the finest!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Derek Emerson

    For those not familiar with the "rural" poet, John Clare, this volume is worth spending time with. I spent nearly two years slowly working through the poems as they deserve, and demand, time. Yes, there are plenty of pastoral-type poems here, but Clare's eye also looks at people as part of nature. While his own life was tragic, as seen as his brilliant yet unhinged poems late in life, he clearly understood the beauty of life. This is a poet to return to again and again. For those not familiar with the "rural" poet, John Clare, this volume is worth spending time with. I spent nearly two years slowly working through the poems as they deserve, and demand, time. Yes, there are plenty of pastoral-type poems here, but Clare's eye also looks at people as part of nature. While his own life was tragic, as seen as his brilliant yet unhinged poems late in life, he clearly understood the beauty of life. This is a poet to return to again and again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Normfg

    I have a number of editions of John Clare's poems, but I am so pleased to have bought this one by Jonathan Bate. The poems are presented chronologically and they come across fresh and as honest as ever. As the great American poet John Ashbery wrote (he is quoted on the back-cover) "Clare grabs hold of you.......". This is a lovely edition of the poems; a pleasure to hold and to read. I have a number of editions of John Clare's poems, but I am so pleased to have bought this one by Jonathan Bate. The poems are presented chronologically and they come across fresh and as honest as ever. As the great American poet John Ashbery wrote (he is quoted on the back-cover) "Clare grabs hold of you.......". This is a lovely edition of the poems; a pleasure to hold and to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I learned about enclosures. Somehow reading so many of these nature poems in a row, is really relaxing and lush and I feel them around me. But after reading so many of these nature poems, after a while, it stops being about "about" since every poem seems to be saying the same thing, and seems more about different conglomerations of word clusters - like jewels laid across the line. I learned about enclosures. Somehow reading so many of these nature poems in a row, is really relaxing and lush and I feel them around me. But after reading so many of these nature poems, after a while, it stops being about "about" since every poem seems to be saying the same thing, and seems more about different conglomerations of word clusters - like jewels laid across the line.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    If you know me, you know I love Clare. However, I was even more amazed this time, as I read a wider range of his poetry (and a bit of prose). Particularly compelling were (of course) Clare's bird poems. I am fascinated and looking forward to working with them more for my thesis. If you know me, you know I love Clare. However, I was even more amazed this time, as I read a wider range of his poetry (and a bit of prose). Particularly compelling were (of course) Clare's bird poems. I am fascinated and looking forward to working with them more for my thesis.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Enjoyed reading this collection!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Gallo

    John Clare è un poeta inglese che "conobbi" mentre studiavo per un esame di letteratura inglese durante un corso sulla poesia rurale del settecento tenuto dal compianto anglista Fernando Ferrara. Nato e vissuto in ambiente agricolo e contadino nella contea del Nottinghamshire, la sua poesia risente fortemente di questo contesto rurale. Era il tempo della rivoluzione agricola che avrebbe portato poi a quella che fu la rivoluzione industriale inglese. Grandi sconvolgimenti sociali ed esistenziali, John Clare è un poeta inglese che "conobbi" mentre studiavo per un esame di letteratura inglese durante un corso sulla poesia rurale del settecento tenuto dal compianto anglista Fernando Ferrara. Nato e vissuto in ambiente agricolo e contadino nella contea del Nottinghamshire, la sua poesia risente fortemente di questo contesto rurale. Era il tempo della rivoluzione agricola che avrebbe portato poi a quella che fu la rivoluzione industriale inglese. Grandi sconvolgimenti sociali ed esistenziali, a cavallo tra il settecento e l'ottocento, cambiarono il volto di un Paese, l'Inghilterra, facendolo diventare Nazione e Stato, mutando usi e costumi, travolgendo vite ed esistenze. John Clare fu uno di questi. Dopo un effimero successo delle sue poesie, scritte sul tema della vita rurale, delle sue miserie e sofferenze, conobbe un declino di fama seguito da un successivo abbandono psicologico e mentale che lo fece rinchiudere in un ospizio dove trascorse venti anni della sua vita. La struttura di questa breve poesia è semplice ma il significato è abbastanza complesso. Tre strofe di sei versi ognuna. La prima strofa ha uno schema in lingua inglese ababab. Le altre due ababcc. Il tutto dà alla composizione ritmo, melodia e tensione. I versi sono pieni di immaginazione, metafore, similitudini, ambiguità ed anche ironia. Su se stessi, sull'autore, ma in fondo sulla condizione umana. Tutto a prima vista. Ad una lettura più approfondita e con un minimo di contesto si capisce che la poesia parla del valore della vita e dell'esistenza in condivisione. I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows? My friends forsake me like a memory lost. I am the self-consumer of my woes; They rise and vanish, an oblivious host, Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost. And yet I am—I live—though I am toss'd Io sono! ma, cosa? e a chi importa? Nel ricordo degli amici scomparso. Mi consumo fra dolori e torti; Appaiono e scompaiono, nell’oblio disperso, Ombre della vita, il vero spirito perso. Eppure io sono e vivo, anche se sbattuto Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, Into the living sea of waking dream, Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys, But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem And all that 's dear. Even those I loved the best Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest. Nel nulla della vergogna e del disdegno, Nel vasto mare dei sogni a occhi aperti Dove di vita o gioia non c’è segno, Ma solo il naufragio di tutti i miei meriti Tutto ciò che mi è caro, i più amati Mi sono estranei, ignoto ai più. I long for scenes where man has never trod— For scenes where woman never smiled or wept— There to abide with my Creator, God, And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,— The grass below; above, the vaulted sky. Anelo a luoghi dove l'uomo mai pose piede, Luoghi dove donna mai sorrise o pianse, Là dove abita il mio creatore, Dio, E il sonno è come quello della fanciullezza, Piena di alti pensieri, mai nati. Lasciami sotto l'erba, sotto la volta del cielo. John Clare Al primo verso il poeta dichiara la sua esistenza, uomo o donna che sia. Una esistenza isolata, solitaria, una esperienza di unicità irripetibile. "Io sono" sembrerebbe essere una dichiarazione esaustiva di completezza, invece non lo è affatto. Nella sua categoricità ha una enfasi negativa perché mette in luce il vuoto e la solitudine del soggetto. "Eppure, quello che sono, nessuno si cura o sa ...". Una volta forse qualcuno lo ricordava, oggi non più. Gli amici lo hanno dimenticato, perdendo di lui la memoria. Il che rende la sua solitudine ancora più pregante perché c'è stato un momento di perdita e di tradimento. Non c'è nulla di più drammatico di una condizione del genere, quella di chi diventa "consumatore delle sue pene". La parola "woes" è un termine molto ambiguo perché significa sensazioni diverse di pena e sofferenza alle quali non si può porre rimedio. I versi 4/5 rinforzano questa situazione e fanno concludere al poeta che nella sua condizione di abbandono e dimenticanza egli continua ad esistere tra dolori e sofferenze rendendo la sua esistenza senza sostanza, soltanto un'ombra, una nebbia. Nella seconda strofa questa nebbia avvolge il poeta e lo fa diventare il nulla che vaga in un mare di sogni vivi. Ma il fatto di non essere riconosciuto dagli altri lo colloca in un vuoto assoluto. Senza il riscontro degli altri è condannato a non esistere. Il mare è il simbolo di come egli vede la sua vita: senza fondo, tra flutti misteriosi, tra desolazione e confusione. Un mare senza vita né gioie, un mare di solitudine, destinato al naufragio. Nella terza strofa il poeta arriva alla conclusione paradossale che se le cose stanno così è bene rimanere isolato così non soffrirà per la mancanza degli altri.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jinx:The:Poet {the Literary Masochist, Ink Ninja & Word Roamer}

    "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, "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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sneh Pradhan

    I am: yet what I am none cares or knows, My friends forsake me like a memory lost; ..........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....... ..............And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept: Untroubling and untroubled where I lie; The grass below--above the vaulted sky. .............. I am: yet what I am none cares or knows, My friends forsake me like a memory lost; ..........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....... ..............And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept: Untroubling and untroubled where I lie; The grass below--above the vaulted sky. ..............

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    A nice collection of Clare's poetry. Clare really was a remarkable and tragic man who produced some worthwhile poetry in a country and time where poetry was mostly left to the educated (or so our anthologies indicate and preserve.) A nice collection of Clare's poetry. Clare really was a remarkable and tragic man who produced some worthwhile poetry in a country and time where poetry was mostly left to the educated (or so our anthologies indicate and preserve.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    one out of every ten of these poems will pierce your veil

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aine MacAodha

    Known as the Peasant Poet, but inspirational reading of his work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    In 2005 I wrote about John Clare as a Christmas card. I included 2 of his poems. You can see the PDF of the piece here: http://www.wordwelder.com/John_Clare_... In 2005 I wrote about John Clare as a Christmas card. I included 2 of his poems. You can see the PDF of the piece here: http://www.wordwelder.com/John_Clare_...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Synthia Green

    My favorite John Clare poem is "Autumn", perhaps because I am smitten by the season. Clare's imagery is accurate and descriptive. My favorite John Clare poem is "Autumn", perhaps because I am smitten by the season. Clare's imagery is accurate and descriptive.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    Excellent.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Watkins

    He got so hungry during a long walk after escaping from an asylum that he ate grass from a ditch and said it tasted like bread. What a great poet!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maximilian

    One of my favorite of the romantics.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  24. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steve Morrison

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Hurwitz

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dara

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Branigin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Davison

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