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.