I Am Poem by John Clare

I Am

Rating: 4.2

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.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Kevin Straw 10 December 2009

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.

24 39 Reply
Jan Campbell 21 July 2009

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.

38 15 Reply
Peter MacKay 18 July 2008

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

33 15 Reply
Own-ur-rehman Sheikh 10 December 2011

What a remarkable poem this is, The sorrow of loosing and betrayals is clearly visible. I just loved it. ☠ £€G€и ÐÅRŸ☠

27 16 Reply
Ramesh T A 10 December 2009

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!

22 16 Reply
Rose Marie Juan-austin 03 December 2021

A deeply poignant and touching poem. Beautifully written. Great closure lines.

0 0 Reply
Clint 25 July 2021

Looking for a poem titled 'Razors Edge ' shoplifting, dumpster diving, hobo camps. I've done it all...

0 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 24 July 2020

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows, .....totally introspective starting line, wonderful beginning

0 0 Reply
Michael Walker 15 October 2019

He feels rejected even by his friends. They do not understand what he is. A poignant wish to be with God, at peace.

1 0 Reply
Peter 11 October 2019

...Full of high thoughts, unborn, so let me lie; The grass beneath - above, the vaulted sky.

0 0 Reply

Phenomenal Woman

John Clare

Northamptonshire / England
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