Essay on Analysis Of The Poem ' An Invite

Essay on Analysis Of The Poem ' An Invite

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John Clare’s “An Invite to Eternity” is a poem that at first glance seems happy and inviting but once examined, is actually quite depressing and aloof. Although it appears to be a direct address to an anonymous “maiden,” in reality the poem is much more complex. Clare offers his “sweet maid” a less than appealing future life, presenting her with an “eternity” filled with harsh landscapes and loneliness. Most readers’ first impression when they think of eternity is almost dream-like or heavenly. However, Clare’s vision of eternity is dark and mysterious and uninviting. These different versions of expectations, as well as the use of antique word forms such as “thou” and “wilt”, seems to suggest a conscious misuse of traditional and old-fashioned love poetry and portrays the “maiden” as being nothing more than a figment in Clare’s imagination. Further, this is not the first time Clare has written about such a hellish place. His poem “I am” resembles the “eternity” he is speaking of in “An Invite to Eternity.” “I am” was a reflection of a period in his life where he was isolated in a mental institution. In this context, the strange and ominous world that Clare presents as “eternity” takes on a new meaning as a representation of his social death while in the asylum. Supporting this idea, “An Invite to Eternity” takes on its own sadness. It depicts of an ill and lonely man’s desire for companionship through the darkness of his own mind. It is almost as if he believes that he will never reach an eternity of happiness, and that he is doomed to a place of obscurity and disorder.
The poem begins with Clare’s direct questioning of the maid, something that occurs in every stanza of the poem. Even in the opening, there are clues that what fol...

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...make it a little more admiring. This ending directly mocks the notion of romantic and eternal love as traditionally presented by poetry and expresses Clare’s own bitterness toward the world and companionship.
Throughout “An Invite to Eternity,” Clare invokes the traditions of love poetry, only to undermine these conventions, mocking the notions of love and eternity with sad irony and the truth of his own social isolation. The notion of love is nothing but a shadow that covers the truth of ones’ own struggles and the improbable triumph of love over isolation is nearly impossible in his eyes. By complicating his poem through the filter of the maid and the frame of traditional love poetry, Clare’s portrait of isolation and social death becomes even more moving, for it is just as obvious to the reader as it is to Clare that such an “eternity” is unlikely to be accepted.

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