"First Love" by John Clare was written in the 19th century

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Helen Thomas 10x

English Coursework

How do different poets convey the idea of Love?

        “First Love” by John Clare was written in the 19th century. It is a poem about how the poet had fallen in love but it turned out it was unrequited. Whereas “Song” by W.H.Auden written in the 20th century, is a poem about how someone has been in love but then lost them to death. They are both quite similar in the fact that they are both about loving someone but not being able to have them. However they are different because “Song” is about two people having been in love and then losing it, rather than “First Love” in which the love is unrequited, and not being fulfilled.

        In the poem “First Love” by John Clare the poet writes about what seems to be a very overwhelming feeling.

        The poem is written in three stanzas and in each one the feelings develop. It has a rhyme structure of AB,AB, CD, CD etc. The first stanza has eight syllables in each line and the other two have a pattern of 8,6,8,6,8,6,8,6. I think it may be written like this because in the first stanza the feeling are simpler and then they get more complex as the poem progresses- like the syllable patterns.  

        In stanza one the crush begins. He sees her and is suddenly struck by her beauty-

“Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower.”

This simile is saying that her face opened up and revealed something beautiful just like a flower does. It brings the image of spring to mind because flowers blooming are associated with it.

        The poet describes never having felt this way before- hence the title “First Love”.

“I ne’er was struck before that hour

With love so sudden and so sweet.”

It suggests that he was surprised that it happened so quickly. It seems that it was love at first sight and this comes across as very romantic at first. It also suggests that it is a good feeling as the poet describes it as ‘sweet’.

        After the initial happiness in the beginning of the first stanza, the poet goes on to explain losing control over his heart.

“And stole my heart away complete.”

This is saying that his heart now belongs to the girl he loves because he has such strong feelings for her.

        The poet also seems to lose control over his body.

“My legs refused to walk away.”

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This is saying that when the poet saw the girl he could not just turn his back on her and walk away. It suggests that he is almost hypnotised and entranced by her and needs to see her.

        He ends the first stanza with quite a depressing statement-

“My life and all seemed turned to clay.”

The poet I saying that his life has stopped an frozen in time, until he is able to be with the girl. This is because he is in love with her, and nothing in his life seems worthwhile unless he can do it ...

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