John Clare

John Clare pg. 922

Slide 1

  • Born to a family of farmers, Clare is fondly known as the peasant-poet.
  • Clare “grew up in a house where his love for reading and writing was an anomaly.”
  • Clare would recite his poems to his parents in hopes that he would gain their approval.
  • One of my sources read that, “It was a particular pleasure to him that Parker Clare lived to see his son’s work in print.”
  • Rhyme and rhythm was very important to Clare.
  • Clare was compared to Robert Burns as he incorporated the language and customs of rural life in his poems.
  • Something I thought was interesting and quite humorous was after his first book was published and experienced a considerable amount of success, some of his readers would come to observe Clare working in the fields as a farmer.

Slide 2

  • Clare met Mary Joyce in school
  • Joyce became a symbol of love for Clare; she became his muse
  • Clare devoted many poems to Joyce as he was convinced that she was his wife. One of these love poems are featured in our book, “To Mary,” on page 932.
  • Even after she died, Clare continued to believe that she was alive and that she was his wife
  • “But soft, the wind comes from the sky, and wispers tales of Mary.” An excerpt from the poem, “To Mary” found on page 932 in our textbook. I find this particular line incredibly charming, even though the love was unrequited.

Slide 3

  • Clare was born 6 months into the war declared against England by the French Revolutionary government.
  • Because of the rise in population of these rural areas, one of my sources read, “Capital investment encouraged the development and implementation of new inventions.”
  • Because of the new regime, Clare’s family lost most of their land and resources
  • In my research, Clare was often referenced along with terms like freedom, and I think that had something to do with his direct opposition to the enclosures. One of my sources mentioned something about Clare going out to look for the place where the sky met the earth but the horizon kept getting away from him no matter how far he walked. When he came back, his family had been looking for him.

Slide 4

  • This is line 29 of “Remembrances” on page 923 of our textbook. Is this true? I
  • This line reminded me a bit of Wordsworth’s “Emotion recollected in tranquility.”
  • Clare also was captivated by regaining his childhood, especially concerning the landscape that had deteriorated around him.

Slide 5

  • In the lines following, Clare tells how he, like we all did, pretended to be an adult as a child, as part of his play. This is interesting because as an adult, his poetry seems to suggest that he craves for his childhood. Is this an experience that any of you have faced?
  • Is it really possible to maintain childishness in a sincere way? And still have the responsibilities and the respect as an adult?
  • When I thought about these questions, I was reminded of a night I spent with friends a couple of weeks ago. We were kind of having a block party in his apartment complex, kids were playing around on their scooters and drawing with chalk. My friend was inebriated. This friend of mine just happens to be one of those people who thinks quite highly of himself and his knowledge. He always tells you when you’re wrong, that sort of thing. Anyway, he had been drinking, which I think he does a bit too much of, and he began to start playing with the kids. Drawing with chalk and scooting around with them. He became one of their peers for a few moments. And that’s one of the pleasures of alcohol, isn’t it? We work so hard to become adults, to start careers, to get married, or decidedly to not, to begin this life that we’ve spent the beginning of our lives fantasizing about. To be taken seriously. To be free to make our own choices. Then, in our free time, in our time of enjoyment, all we want is to be children again. Maybe we get there by substances in brightly colored bottles, like the candy that used to insight envy. Maybe we choose to get there by experiencing the raw senses of sex or love or both. Maybe we escape into a book or retreat into a dark theatre. But something in us wants that back.


  • What does poetry free us from? Are we all seeking freedom? From what?
  • Is the quest for freedom unique to the Romantic era?




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