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(13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864 / Northamptonshire / England)

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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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


Read poems about / on: childhood, memory, lost, woman, sleep, sea, sky, death, god, life, joy, women, rose, dream, friend

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Comments about this poem (Braggart by John Clare )

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  • Karen Wood (12/14/2013 1:29:00 AM)

    This poem seems to convey perfectly the misery and isolation of depression. I love the richness of some of his expressions ' I am the self-consumer of my woes'. Is he consuming his woes, or are his woes consuming him? The line seems to suggest both and it's like viewing one of those optical illusions where the mind flips between the two views but can't hold both at once.

    The sea metaphor of the second verse is just beautiful, 'living sea of waking dreams', ' the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems'. Bleak but beautifully evocative. This poem can be read over and over and never become stale.

    8 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Bernard Snyder (12/10/2013 10:41:00 AM)

    A very nice expression indeed!

  • Tony Karas (12/10/2012 6:25:00 PM)

    Beyond excellently done. Shames my own feeble attempt at near the same topic but that's the difference between a professional and an amateur.

  • Justin Gonzalez (12/10/2012 3:44:00 AM)

    Wow, powerful. Wraps up all the sadness one could experience in life in one well written poem.

  • Legendary Gamer (12/10/2011 5:03:00 AM)

    What a remarkable poem this is, The sorrow of loosing and betrayals is clearly visible. I just loved it.

    ☠ £€G€и ÐÅRŸ☠

  • Kevin Straw (12/10/2009 6:05:00 AM)

    There is a tinge of self-pity about this poem, but it is difficult to begrudge Clare that note when one considers the circumstances. This poem demonstrates the great power of poetry to be the thing it describes. Indeed that could be a definition if what poetry is. It is as though Clare's illness becomes words, it is the flesh made word.

  • Ramesh T A (12/10/2009 12:55:00 AM)

    In this selfish world such an attitude is indeed necessary to survive as a monarch between the sky and earth! Happy and confident such a man will be! I appreciate the author for having such an attitude!

  • Jan Campbell (7/21/2009 6:00:00 PM)

    John Clare suffered from manic depression, to say that this beautiful poem is 'self-obsessed drivel' trivialises his sufferings in a very arrogant way. I think it is a privilege to be allowed to glimpse those sufferings expressed so vividly. I too suffer from this illness which thankfully is much better understood today and the first time I read this poem I identified with John Clare and it remains my favourite. There is definately something about being in a dark place that causes some people to reach into the depths of their pain and find relief in writing, painting etc which we then can share.

  • Is It Poetry (12/10/2008 4:50:00 PM)

    Well I did'nt have any coffee and this dude is rockin...drivel these colors blinded devine twined in such wonderfull fasion of time..wooh

  • Peter MacKay (7/18/2008 11:22:00 PM)

    Jim Doyle (reviewer, above) says that Clare's poem is self-obsessed drivel. I disagree. I don't think there is such a thing as drivel. There is only writing. I don't even believe in good or bad writing. I believe, though, in perception. And it is perception that Doyle has used to attack Clare's timeless poem. I wrote this poem out on onion paper in Gothic script with a calligraphic pen, framed it, and gave it to a good friend of mine. My friend, who doesn't have a sentimental bone in her body, read it aloud as we sat having a pot of tea in the garden. The tears fell from her eyes, like raindrops against a window-pane. She was so taken by Clare's words, so moved by them, she found it difficult to speak. Again - perception. We had Earl Grey tea and hot buttered scones. It was a delightful day... Again, perception. Nothing but. Thank you, too, to Jane Koehorst (reviewer, above) who spoke so kindly and movingly about Clare's poem. You say: 'I wish I could create something as beautiful as this with words.' My dear, you just have. Peter - alphecca@gmail.com

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