John Clare

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

First Love - Poem by John Clare


I ne'er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start --
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter's choice?
Is love's bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love's appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more

Comments about First Love by John Clare

  • Robert Murray Smith (3/16/2017 5:28:00 AM)

    A very romantic poem. Liked it. (Report) Reply

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  • (3/12/2017 8:41:00 AM)

    One can never forget first love (Report) Reply

  • Gary Sturt (10/22/2016 2:49:00 PM)

    Confused about the last verse
    Can anyone explain the first two lines of the last verse. I need to know as I have fallen in love with the rest of the poem. (Report) Reply

  • (3/24/2016 3:53:00 PM)

    Love it (Report) Reply

  • (9/11/2015 11:55:00 AM)

    I love this poem, kindof remembered me of my first love in pre school (Report) Reply

  • (4/19/2015 10:46:00 AM)

    possibly he experienced...great work (Report) Reply

  • (6/18/2014 12:38:00 PM)

    ..............this is a beautiful poem of first love....and the writing style reminds me of my favourite poets...
    ....................................~~~~~~~~~~ love love love ~~~~~~~~~~~~~.......................................
    (Report) Reply

  • Yu-ying Lee (6/15/2014 11:32:00 PM)

    So beautiful and true indeed! (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2014 12:13:00 AM)

    beautifully expressed! !
    i like it! !
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/15/2013 3:49:00 PM)

    Thanks for expressing my feelings in way I can´t. Only a name can be just Love. (Report) Reply

  • (3/15/2013 3:49:00 PM)

    Thanks for expressing my feelings in way I can´t. Only a name can be just Love. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/15/2012 8:19:00 PM)

    I read all of Clare's poetry recently and it amazed me with its purity of expression. Take any genius and strip away his or her education and you will find Clare. He is the equal of Keats or Shelley. Indeed he is nearer the fount of poetry than they. (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2012 11:50:00 AM)

    Because this John Clare poem reflects my own life experience to a degree, I find it quite touchingly sentimental. Moving one's memory in an enjoyable reverie! (Report) Reply

  • (5/14/2012 11:44:00 AM)

    Some guy in an online poker room urged me to read this poem-a 15 year old no less! -and I too have become wooed by it. As is mentioned above, the flow distracts me but I can see what Clare sees and that is beautiful. Haven...your interpretation was fantastic as well and helped me to better understand what Clare was saying so long ago. Thank you for sharing! ! (Report) Reply

  • (1/20/2012 8:11:00 AM)

    I read the poem twelve years back but its last two lines are still echoing in my heart. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/15/2010 7:15:00 AM)

    Joseph - compare Yeats:

    First Love

    THOUGH nurtured like the sailing moon
    In beauty's murderous brood,
    She walked awhile and blushed awhile
    And on my pathway stood
    Until I thought her body bore
    A heart of flesh and blood.
    But since I laid a hand thereon
    And found a heart of stone
    I have attempted many things
    And not a thing is done,
    For every hand is lunatic
    That travels on the moon.
    She smiled and that transfigured me
    And left me but a lout,
    Maundering here, and maundering there,
    Emptier of thought
    Than the heavenly circuit of its stars
    When the moon sails out.

    One difference is that the technique and the thought/feeling are not out of sync in Yeats' poem. You have to realise that a poem may be flawed technically, and those flaws subtract from its intention.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2010 6:30:00 AM)

    WOW - ZAP - Zing - WAM - BAM - OOPS - what more describes first love. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/15/2010 5:34:00 AM)

    This is not the best of Clare – there is a fair amount of “fiddling the books” to achieve scansion and rhyme: “her face it bloomed”, “stole my heart away complete”, pale as deadly pale”. “eyesight quite away” – take away the underlined words and you have a more vigorous poetry - but the last verse is free of these – one feels the poetic passion more aroused – you then begin to believe more in the poem.

    You could almost do without the first two verses, though “And when she looked, what could I ail? /My life and all seemed turned to clay.” is good – though “were” instead of “seemed” would be allowable.

    Also: “sweet” in each of the first two lines” is too sweet! And how, in fact, did his beloved’s face “bloom”?

    The poem creaks a little in pursuit of its form, and thus suspends the reader between belief and disbelief in the narrative.

    The full stop at the end of the fifth line is wrong.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2010 4:36:00 AM)

    haven if i haven't read john's poem first i wouldn't know that is base
    from somebody's poem...i tell you what yours is an expression of somebody
    who truly experienced it... i admire you for that...inovation ha!
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2010 4:32:00 AM)

    Anyone an idea what means ' as chords do from string. I live in Belgium and so my motherlanguage is dutch. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: flower, winter, snow, heart, love, life, tree

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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