John Clare

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

I Am - Poem by John Clare

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 about I Am by John Clare

  • (5/21/2018 10:55:00 AM)

    'I long for scenes where man has never trod
    Pure genius
    (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (1/7/2018 6:59:00 AM)

    which meter is this poem? ? (Report) Reply

  • (7/13/2017 10:22:00 AM)

    The human life destined to live with others in this world often feels isolated and disillusioned. A great writing. (Report) Reply

  • Mihaela Pirjol (5/11/2017 11:28:00 AM)

    That poems like this one, exist, make life more bearable. (Report) Reply

  • (1/25/2017 7:39:00 AM)

    John Clare is one of greatest poets of the 18th and 19th century (and undoubtedly one of the best British poets) and it makes me extremely angry when he is classed as a peasant poet, as if to belittle his reputation. His recording of the natural world, as he saw it at first hand, is far superior to anything Wordsworth or any of his ilk could produce. If nothing else his writing should be viewed as great historical and social pieces of work. (Report) Reply

  • (1/5/2017 8:59:00 AM)

    the poet feels left out and overlooked, so in turn he wants to be in another place? (Report) Reply

  • (12/21/2016 11:16:00 PM)

    Sometimes it's not about recognition but it's about the work you put in its implement and lives forever which it's the greatest compliment in the world (Report) Reply

  • Abdulrazak Aralimatti (11/27/2016 4:03:00 AM)

    And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
    Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
    The grass below- above the vaulted sky.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/18/2016 11:31:00 AM)

    The last verse has the ring of genius. (Report) Reply

  • (5/9/2016 7:12:00 PM)

    Its not i am anymore, but we are...and we wish we were yet it never came (Report) Reply

  • Prince Folorunsho Adegoke (5/2/2016 9:01:00 AM)

    A very nice and inspiring poem (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (5/2/2016 5:58:00 AM)

    In their edition of Clare’s poems, Robinson and Powell report that “the nature of Clare’s illness has never satisfactorily been established. There seem to have been epileptiform incidents in his early life, experiences during his visits to London which suggest a shaky hold upon reality, confusion about his relationship to Mary Joyce, nightmares, some bouts of heavy drinking, and the suggestion, by Clare himself, that he might have been venereally infected.[..] The account of Clare’s escape from High Beach [the asylum where he was first confined] is a strange mixture of dream-world, literary reminiscence, and realistic reporting. There are the first recorded signs that Clare is not sure of his own identity. Is he Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver, Queen Victoria’s father, or just a battered piece of flotsam? Clare himself is not sure.” (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (5/2/2016 5:57:00 AM)

    And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
    Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
    The grass below- above the vaulted sky.

    - In ITALIAN:

    E dormire sonni lievi come nell'infanzia:
    Senza preoccupazioni e sereno dove giaccio;
    L'erba sotto di me - e sopra, la volta del cielo.
    (Report) Reply

  • (4/16/2016 10:14:00 AM)

    Eniquivically beautiful sad dark and my absolute favourite poem of all time - well done Mr. John Clare and RIP. Thank you for creating something that has touched me beyond the words. Amazing! ZJByrne (Report) Reply

    Daniel Brick (11/12/2016 8:53:00 AM)

    Your four adjectives express the wonder and terror of Clare's poem: beautiful, sad, dark, a-m-a-z-i-n-g.
    Wonder because it is a coherent, pitch-perfect poem by a man already clinically insane; terror because he is staring into the abyss in stanzas 1 & 2. Is the abyss staring back at him in #3 or do you believe the religious consolation he intuits? I hope very, very much that he achieved his peace after death.

  • Shahin Latif (11/23/2015 1:34:00 PM)

    Great penned! I love this poem. I read it more & more. So, regards to John Clare. (Report) Reply

  • (10/7/2015 9:16:00 PM)

    I had never heard of this until I watched Penny Dreadful and had heard a portion of it recited on an episode. I fell in love with this poem. Beautiful words with such deep feeling that one can feel in the depths of your soul. (Report) Reply

    Anish Debnath (10/14/2015 7:05:00 AM)

    This is the same case for me also.I also heard it first from penny dreadful.After that I read it too many times.He had expressed the deepest feelings of his heart by such lovely and exact words.It is wonderful.

  • Tricia Hamill (9/23/2015 12:18:00 AM)

    I adore this poem by John Clare. He was a beautiful writer of words and a deep feeling soul that did not get much recognition in the late 19th Century. This is probably the best known poem of his. Oh, how I wish these like minded souls were recognized while they were living. So many became famous for their writing after they were long gone. Perhaps that is the curse of the true, lost soul poets who feel deeper than most humans and can turn words into music on paper. I love this poem and here's to John Clare! [3 May he be looking down at us as we truly appreciate this gorgeous poem. (P.S. I was so happy to hear them use it recently in an episode of Penny Dreadful on Showtime. I was surprised and so happy!) God Bless you John Clare.. your have touched my heart and soul with this one! Trish, NYC (Report) Reply

  • John S (9/13/2015 12:51:00 PM)

    I can feel the pain and anguish John feels through this well-written poem. His despair is almost palpable and this poem is an excellent conveyor of Johns feelings. We all know how dreadful those insane asylums were back then. (Report) Reply

  • Dylan Fadden (8/13/2015 6:07:00 PM)

    i found it was a very nice poem. well done (Report) Reply

  • (8/6/2015 5:07:00 PM)

    last verse quoted on Show Time's Penny Dreadful season finale (Report) Reply

Read all 57 comments »

# 82 poem on top 500 Poems

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

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Thursday, July 13, 2017

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