Monday, 20 June 2011

A poem chosen to mark the northern hemisphere summer solstice 2011.

The poet John Clare, son of a poor labourer, was born in the year 1793 at Helpstone, near Peterborough. He spent the last 22 years of his life living in a lunatic asylum, forsaken by family and friends (mentioned in the second line of the following poem: 'I Am'). He died on 20th May 1864. His last wish was to be buried near his birth place and this was granted.

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 een 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 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.

John Clare (13th July 1793 - 20th May 1864)
tost - tossed
een - even


  1. Ronald Blythe, one of my favourite writers, is president of the John Clae society and often quotes Clare's poetry in his writing. Simple stuff yet much more meaningful that at first it appears to be.

  2. Thanks for the comments on the John Clare poem.

    I hope that the second half of the year is kinder to the planet than the first - but I somehow suspect it may not be.

  3. Thanks for that. Every time I read a John Clare poem I think I ought to read more of them.

  4. Thanks Dominic. It's the same with me.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.