Taking a Look at John Clare's Poems

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John Clare was an English poet that lived in the late 1700's and early 1800's. His poems reflect his experiences in life, many of them being about love. John Clare writes in a simple, unsophisticated manner, using a plentiful amount of figurative language such as similes and metaphors.Imagery is also a main element is his poetry. John Clare's poems are very straightforward, making the general idea of his poems stronger and easier to understand. Clare tells a story in each of his poems, and expresses his feelings. One example that shows the simplicity of his work is “First Love”. In this poem, Clare talks about what the title says,how it feels to fall in love for the first time,. He says that he fell in love at first sight, “I ne’er was struck before that hour, With love so sudden and so sweet”. He also talks about how his life was able to change in an instant, that his life “turned into clay”. He also uses alliteration ( “blood burnt”) and repetition(“ pale as deadly pale”) to make smoother lines through the poem. While the poem is simple, he is able strongly convey his emotions during this experience through his use of simile and metaphor. Figurative language such as simile, metaphor, personification, and irony is very common through Clare's poems. Two examples that use much figurative language are “I am!” and “Autumn”. In “I am!”, Clare talks about his time of mental illness. He faces loneliness and depression, and how he wishes to kill himself (“I long for scenes where man hath never trod....There to abide with my Creator, God,”). Clare uses irony to explain how his friends treat him like a stranger. He uses paradox explain what is wrong with his mind (“Into the nothingness of scorn and noise”).Personification is also used, saying that Clare's 'woes' “rise and vanish in oblivious host, like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes” . Examples of similes in the poem include “My friends forsake me like a memory lost”, and “like vapours tossed”. The poem “Autumn” uses more similes and metaphors, with there being more than one simile in each stanza. Clare compares the characteristics of nature during Autumn with different objects, such as “The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread” (Simile) and “Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air”(Metaphor).

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