Who Isn’t Touched By John Clare’s “I Am”?

1 Jun

Green Meadow w/Clouds Both Light and Dark Above

I Am
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 shadows in love’s frenzied, stifled throes–
And yet I am, and live–like vapors tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest, that I love the best,
Are strange–nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes, where man hath never trod,
A place where woman never smiled 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.

John Clare was born into a peasant family in England 1793. Although he was the son of illiterate parents, Clare received formal schooling til age 12. Through earning money as a agricultural labor (long, difficult days spent ploughing and threshing), he published several volumes of poetry.

For a short time, Clare experienced a brief albeit condescending popularity as Northampshire England’s “Peasant Poet,” at a time when illiteracy was a norm for rural workers. For at that time, poetry was expected only from those in high society.

This was a short-lived dream, sadly. As they say… ‘All sad people like poetry. Happy people like songs.’ Though it’s apparent he was a gifted writer, the sadness, isolation and financial hardship wore on Clare. After suffering from delusions, he was admitted to an asylum where he spent the final 20 years of his life. — Heather Grace, IPJ


About The Author

Heather Grace is an Intractable Pain Sufferer, Writer & Advocate. She’s Co-Director of the 501c3 nonprofit Intractable Pain Patients United (http://www.ippu.info), has been a Speaker/Conference Planner at For Grace’s (http://www.forgrace.org) annual Women in Pain Conference and is a Pain Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation (http://uspainfoundation.org).

© 2011-2015 Intractable Pain Journal & Heather Grace. All rights reserved.


One Response to “Who Isn’t Touched By John Clare’s “I Am”?”

  1. Susan Rice Broyles RN June 3, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Good afternoon, Heather. What a lovely entry, a great illustration of the movement of time and the deep despair intractable pain can inflict on an individual and those who love them. The passage of time has done little to change the impact of this non-curable disease or an exact cause. Additionally, this entry shows us just how much a life lived in the face of Intractable Pain is indeed a united one. United with all those who lived before, those currently facing intractable pain and most unfortunately those yet to know this unforgiving disease.  Most reassuring is the message of “Hope,” which is as vital as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Without it, little matters. Hope is meant to be given forward to be sure, and instantly fills the cup of the giver. Thanks for sharing, and I would so love to speak to you, Heather anytime. God Bless you for the work you do.

    The best, SRB  Susan Broyles RN

    REPLY FROM THE AUTHOR: Thanks for the lovely comment Susan & a special thanks for all you’ve done as an RN. A good nurse makes all the difference to ppl who suffer with chronic pain and especially when there’s severe/constant (intractable) pain! I wish more ppl would unite and advocate for better care.

    As such, I invite YOU to join me in this fight on the 1st Annual #PainRealityDay, September 9th. I hope an annual day like this one will make an impact–we need a set day to come together and tell the world what it’s really like to live with pain (or care for those who live with pain!) See more at PainReality.com! Thx, HG 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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