'I Am' by John Clare (Poem Analysis)

1419 words 6 pages
“I Am” is a poem that was written by John Clare during the 1840s. Clare’s rustic poetry had brought him considerable fame and wealth, which enabled him to escape the meagre life he had experienced up until that time. After some years, his rural style of poetry was no longer in fashion, and his poetry met with little success. Psychological pressures resulting from the need to make money to feed his family, the struggles to adapt his poetry to the changing times and his inability to reconcile his rural neighbourhood with urban London which his fame had acquainted him with, took its toll on his sanity, and led to spells in two different asylums. The poem revolves around circumstances surrounding Clare at the time, and his entire life.
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Clare once again doesn’t state what he is, leaving a sense of mystery to him, probably because he is uncertain of what he is.
In the second stanza, he tells the reader how he believes the world is nothing but scorn and noise, where there is no sense of life or its joys, and how all his dreams have been wrecked. He explains how the people he loved the most were acting stranger than the rest. He continues from the previous stanza with, “Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,” The image of Clare being tossed into a violent storm of rejection comes to mind, it also gives the image of him being away from all the noises in the world and being away from people. Clare sees himself as someone who is living with people who are ghosts of what they once were, and are being engulfed by scorn and noise which is a telling description of the irrational environment of a mental institution. Line nine and ten of the poem: “Where there is neither sense of life nor joys / but the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems.” The anguished words seem to mean that he finds his life’s toils and achievements in utter ruins and starts to acknowledge his isolation from society after entering the asylum. As he complains of his friends not knowing him, he complains just as strongly about not knowing them: “Even the dearest that I love the best/Are strange -- nay, rather, stranger than the rest.” The sense that he no longer knows