Analysis of John Clare's 'I Am'

Good Essays
Kaitlin Kelleher
March 11th, 2013
ENG 252

Analysis of John Clare 's “I Am”

Through the use of punctuation (or lack thereof), repetition, and rhyme scheme, John Clare 's first stanza of “I Am” expresses the speaker 's distorted sense of self and vast understanding of his morose existence. The following stanza has been chosen as the analysis point for this paper:
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 oblivion 's host,Like shadows in love 's frenzied stifled throes;--And yet I am, and live-- with vapours toss 't
(Lines 1-6)
This poem is believed to be a direct reflection of Clare 's unfortunate time spent in an
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This may seem like an inconsequential difference, but it is obvious that Clare was very precise in choosing rhyme scheme just as he was with his punctuation and repetition. It can be said that Clare chose this particular style to set the first stanza apart from the rest. While the second and third stanza are more out of the way, as in, looking towards the future and what he wishes would be, the first stanza is all about his self assessment and coming to terms with what he is, has, and does. The rhyme scheme also draws particular attention to each ending word. The negative connotation in the context in not lost thanks to the simplistic rhyme style. Some of the words found in the first stanza are lost, toss 't, woes, throes, etc. These words are connected closely with the relative pessimistic meaning behind them. The rhyme scheme is another addition to Clare 's overall morose feel of the first stanza.
Clare does a fair job in capturing how it is to be a lonely, melancholic soul, grieving the loss of friendship in love, all while making it clear that the speaker has a vast knowledge of self awareness. The simplistic seeming set up of the stanzas lends to a much deeper understanding of the human condition. “I Am” is written with precise punctuation, purposeful repetition, as well as a distinct rhyme scheme which helps to create the morose but understanding atmosphere that exists in the speaker 's head.

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