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How does John Clare evoke emotion in the readers of his poems I am and To John Clare?

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Introduction

How does John Clare evoke emotion in the readers of his poems 'I am' and 'To John Clare'? John Clare was an English poet who lived mostly in rural Northamptonshire from 1793 to 1864. In 1837, he had a mental breakdown and was admitted to an asylum in Epping Forest. Four years later, he discharged himself and walked the 80 miles home in three and a half days, living on grass he ate by the side of the road. Later that year (1841), he was certified insane and was committed to the Northampton Asylum. He lived there until his death in 1864 writing occasionally. His poetry was often a means of escape to him - a way to break free of his incarceration. Clare's poems reflect his own thoughts and feelings making the poems autobiographical, almost as if they were a page from a diary. This feature of the poems particularly brings out emotion with the readers as they see Clare's life through his eyes and experience what he is going through. Clare was a romantic poet and often used sensitive natural imagery to convey his message in his poems. ...read more.

Middle

?The third stanza shows that he wants something new in his life. To start his life again and to live with nothing holding him back. Clare expresses a wish to return to the simplicity of childhood 'to sleep as I did in childhood, sweetly slept' or even the tranquillity of death 'there to abide with my creator, God'. This final verse uses very powerful imagery to evoke emotion in the readers 'Untroubling, and untroubled where I lie, the grass below - above the vaulted sky'. The use of childhood is particularly touching and makes the reader feel pity for Clare and the way his life's course has run. Religious ideas make this stanza peaceful and calm compared to the anger coursing through the end of verse one and through verse two. ? The poem is an eclectic mix of emotions starting calm, escalating into anger and then calming back down into a sort of resigned tranquillity once more to end as it started. This change of emotions is shown through the rhyme scheme and the rhythm of the verses. At the beginning of verse one the rhythm is iambic - calm and simple, but as the poem progresses it becomes more resentful and self pitying shown by the trochaic rhythm from the end of verse one and into verse two. ...read more.

Conclusion

Clare writes very nostalgically for his old life using cosy images 'The pigs sleep in the sty the bookman comes the little boy lets home-close-nesting go'. These images are all peaceful and comforting things that hark back to childhood. Clare wishes he could transport himself away from his situation and shows this by using images such as sleep (where dreams are a form of escape) 'the pigs sleep in the sty' and, at the end of the poem, children's stories. These are the ultimate form of escapism, transporting the reader to magical, unknown world that can block out reality for their duration. Clare uses fewer poetic techniques (such as alliteration) in 'To John Clare' than in 'I am' but this does not take away from the power of the poem. The simplicity makes the whole poem naive and vulnerable in nature. This vulnerability has its own intensity that arouses strong emotion in the reader, wanting to help or protect Clare in his seeming innocence. Overall, the poems of 'I am' and 'To John Clare' are both deeply emotionally involving to the reader. Clare uses a variety of techniques to produce this emotion such as the syntax, enjambment and changing rhythm in 'I am' and gentle, sensitive imagery in 'To John Clare'. These methods bring the poetry to life, making it more realistic and affecting for its audience. ...read more.

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