Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
John Clare. 1793–1864
621. Written in Northampton County Asylum
I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows? 
  My friends forsake me like a memory lost. 
I am the self-consumer of my woes; 
  They rise and vanish, an oblivious host, 
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost.         5
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss'd 
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, 
  Into the living sea of waking dream, 
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys, 
  But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem  10
And all that 's dear. Even those I loved the best 
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest. 
I long for scenes where man has never trod— 
  For scenes where woman never smiled or wept— 
There to abide with my Creator, God,  15
  And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, 
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,— 
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky. 
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