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    Edit: I was reminded of this thread recently and thought I'd post up the four past paper questions in the two exams Clare has been up for those doing it this year.

    January 2008:

    1. How is love reflected in Clare's poetry?
    2. How is nature reflected in Clare's poetry?

    June 2008:

    1. How is Clare's identity as a poet reflected in his poetry?
    2. How does Clare display agricultural change in his poetry?

    Paraphrased, but basically the same questions. Hope this helps someone, haha.

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    Heya,

    I was looking through this forum but noticed there's no topic on John Clare (forgive me if there are and I've missed it), which supposedly is replacing William Blake in the Romantic Poetry section (Unit 4)?

    Is anyone else studying John Clare for the second question in the exam with Hamlet etc?
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    I am.

    Honestly? John Clare bores me stiff but hey, I'd better get on with memorising some quotations for the exam in 3 weeks time!!

    x
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    Yeah i'm doing Clare with Edward the 2nd.

    It took me a while but Clare is ok! His nature stuff like 'the wren' and 'the skylark' bore me stiff, but his love section is beautiful.

    To anyone taking this exam, i would suggest reading 'John Clare in context.' I'm happy to write a summery for you if you think it would help?

    x
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    (Original post by Jessy Idol)
    Yeah i'm doing Clare with Edward the 2nd.

    It took me a while but Clare is ok! His nature stuff like 'the wren' and 'the skylark' bore me stiff, but his love section is beautiful.

    To anyone taking this exam, i would suggest reading 'John Clare in context.' I'm happy to write a summery for you if you think it would help?

    x
    Yeah that sound quite good if you have the time, we've done some contextual stuff but no idea if it's as good.

    I haven't done the wren/skylark but some different poems. We were told to only really know 6/7 poems 'well' because that'll probably be enough to answer what they give us...
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    yeah our teacher has told us to call up some important poems from country village year and plus from the other sections. Protest peoms such as the Moors and Lament of swordy well are good to know, so is the parish thats wha we did. plus clares 'I am' which links everything. done so many its hard to put the quote to the poem. havent done any essays for this, would any one be good enough to email me some of theres to give me an idea?.
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    'I Am' is a good one which I've done, but we've focussed more on nature-orientated ones like Summer Tints, Winter Fields, The Passing Traveler, The Gipsy Camp, Sonnet: The Last Day, The Landrail, I Love to Hear the Evening Crows etc to name a few. Also done 'What is Life?' 'What is Love?' and 'A Vision'. Those are the only ones I can remember well to be honest.

    I haven't done many essays for this either but here's one I got 16 or 17 on (can't remember but it's an A) which has some analysis on A Passing Traveler/Winter Fields/What is Life?:

    How does Clare express his thoughts and feelings about the loss of a happy rural life in his poems?

    During his lifetime, John Clare was known as one of the Romantic Poets which wrote about nature as a morally improving force, contrasting to the rapidly changing, man-made world which was gaining power at the time. Although Clare was from a strongly agricultural background, his family working on the land for a living, he himself has drifted from this rural life to find himself in limbo between the working and middle classes due to his status as a poet. Using these literary skills, we are able to gain a picture of his emotions regarding the fast-approaching Industrial Revolution.

    Firstly, his poem ‘The Passing Traveller’ holds a lot of valuable imagery portraying Clare’s feelings. He states ‘The church may stand within and not be seen’ which appears to represent nature’s all-consuming power over things man-made, the church used in this example. A sense of hope is evident here regarding his loss of a rural lifestyle, that nature may come back to reclaim its reign over the land. From this point of view, the church represents something very negative as something structuralised and unnatural, similar to the ‘hourglass on the run’ mentioned in ‘What is Life?’ – ‘on the run’ reinforces Clare’s desire to escape the new reality which is forming around him. Furthermore, the ‘hourglass’ is a manmade object chosen to portray a very restrictive image (sand in glass) which further suggests his feelings of being trapped by the loss of his rural life. More literally, during this time period, the official time system was introduced which contradicted the traditional ways of using nature as a guide, and the hourglass is directly representative of this new unnatural restriction. Alternatively, the church in ‘The Passing Traveller’ may represent religion in a purer way which is protected by nature, rather than overridden. Clare’s appreciation for religion can be seen widely across his poetry, which for example can be seen in ‘Summer Tints’, through the personification of the season – ‘Summer’s mellowing paintbrush’, which portrays nature as somewhat Godlike, and the more obvious imagery held by the shepherd in the same poem. The word ‘mellowing’ conveys a calming, gentle atmosphere associated with Summer, and as the Earth is ultimately created by God, the two could be seen as entwined as also suggested by ‘The Passing Traveller’. This element of ambiguity is also evident in the use of the magpie in this poem, which is a bird of contrasting black and white colouring. The magpie also has superstitious connotations and may have been used as a ‘bad omen’, although it has been mentioned in plural form (magpies’) which superstitiously would suggest hope, rather than despair, according to tradition.

    However, it also appears that Clare did not see nature as a wholly positive force. In ‘Winter Fields’, he expresses his desire to ‘cheat the sway of winter’ by means of a book, which shows he might welcome the loss of his rural lifestyle to embrace a more intellectual one, as represented by the book. Phrases such as ‘pudgy paths’, show a less perfective side of nature which suggests a possible dislike for it. The use of alliteration using the letter ‘p’ reinforces this sense of monotony and drudgery associated with the season of winter, but might also suggests the solidarity of nature. The rhyming structure of the poem is broken with the line ending ‘corner seat’ which subliminally represents the disruption caused by the middle classes and the monarchy. This shows Clare’s confusion regarding his torn position between two social classes. The word ‘cheat’ is also especially negative and may be targeted instead at the middle classes, describing their ability to cheat the ruling of nature yet again with a manmade object. The fact that he has written a poem featuring the negative aspects of nature itself suggests that he values all facets of it, and not just the beautiful ones as featured in ‘Summer Tints’.

    Finally, Clare incorporates a considerable level of aggressive imagery into his poetry which blends with his more superficial descriptions – ‘The boy who stands and kills the black-nosed bee’, presents a harsh juxtaposition using the violent word ‘kill’ against the concept of the ancient, peaceful trees. Again, alliteration utilises the blunt ‘b’ sound to accentuate the killing action being described, and may suggest Clare’s personal anger towards what the boy may represent, perhaps again the middle classes which would lead us to believe that the bee, as a small and insignificant creature, would represent the working classes. This metaphorically portrays the cruelty which the working classes had to endure, as disease and death was rife due to having to migrate to the city and abandon their rural lives. Similarly, the ‘bearded corn like armies on parade’ mixes natural imagery with something more sinister, in this case the ‘armies’, and in ‘The Landrail’, Clare describes the bird’s sound to be ‘craiking’, this use of onomatopoeia holding the ability to be interpreted literally as a bird’s call, or as the piercing and uncomfortable sound of machinery being introduced during the Industrial Revolution.

    In conclusion, Clare appears to have mixed feelings towards his loss of a happy rural lifestyle, probably influenced by his position between the two social classes and a confusion regarding his own identity because of this. Overall, he appears to favour the force of nature in spite of this, with most of his poetry suggesting an extensive admiration for it. The threat of the loss of this lifestyle has instigated imagery of restriction, disruption and discomfort for the most part, although the possibility of him welcoming the lifestyle to replace his rural one is also evident. When taken into account, Clare’s mental state which had declined over his lifetime could be used to explain this sense of confusion, however.


    I know it's kind of short but it was another 3am job... haha. Hope this helps anyone.
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    I certainly think it's helpful. Thanks JokastaJackal.

    We haven't done many essays on Clare - our tutor is very keen on reading/discussing but it doesn't help much when looking back over the poems.

    I think this is the question I'm dreading most...
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    (Original post by Queen Herod)
    I certainly think it's helpful. Thanks JokastaJackal.

    We haven't done many essays on Clare - our tutor is very keen on reading/discussing but it doesn't help much when looking back over the poems.

    I think this is the question I'm dreading most...
    Yeah, remember just to talk about the contextual stuff and you should be fine. I think I'm more up to scratch on Clare than the other stuff so I can try to help if you need any :P

    I think the main things to write about when referring to the poems is how it reflects Clare's feelings towards himself/nature/the Industrial Revolution/the Agricultural Revolution/the Monarchy/the Church (this one doesn't appear so much in his poetry)/Society and social class.

    Also there may be a question on how his poetry is typical of Romantic poetry so we've been told. I'm willing to type up my list of aspects of Romanticism and give an example for each from his poetry if anyone wants (I'll probably do it anyway later).
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    (Original post by JocastaJackal)
    Also there may be a question on how his poetry is typical of Romantic poetry so we've been told. I'm willing to type up my list of aspects of Romanticism and give an example for each from his poetry if anyone wants (I'll probably do it anyway later).
    Oh, I'd like it if possible. That would be great - thank you so much.
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    Right, here we go:

    Romantic poetry and Romanticism in general -

    - Always tried to incorporate a sense of individualistic/idealistic imagery rather than realism, which can be seen in the ambiguity of Clare's poetry. This is why a lot of his poetry contains so many surreal metaphors and similies which can be openly interpreted by the reader, because his intent for the reader is to evoke individualistic thought. Example: Sonnet: The Passing Traveler begins with: The passing traveler with wonder sees / A deep and ancient stone pit full of trees ... The passing traveler oft with wonder stops / And things he e'en could walk upon their tops. Clare could be conveying many things through this imagery, for example his respect for the wisdom of nature conveyed by 'deep and ancient' pit, or the unnatural quality of trees being enclosed in a pit which evokes 'wonder' from the traveler - this could reflect Clare's (negative) feelings towards land enclosure which arose from the Agricultural Revolution.

    - As stated above, Romantic poetry usually provokes the reader to redefine their outlook on the world, through the use of ambiguity shown above and also questioning. In 'Song: Say What Is Love', Clare constantly repeats 'Say what is love' throughout, the imperative pronoun demanding the reader to give their own thoughts on what love is.

    - The Romantics believed that the uncultivated imagination was even more powerful than education, and so they wrote about simple topics that educated court poets may not have written about. This can be seen in most of Clare's poetry, but for example 'The Landrail' is simply about a bird (landrail) running through the grass and baffling people around it because it can be heard and not seen. Again, although this appears simple on the outside it is actually a metaphor for many possible things, e.g. the working class losing their place in society perhaps, or Clare's desire to hide from the changing reality he lives in, or the landrail hidden and making 'craiking' noises representing the impending threat of agricultural machinery in the distance, heard but not seen.

    - To follow up on their enjoyment of simple concepts, Clare in particular used rural diction ('The boy goes hasty for his load of brakes' in The Gipsy Camp - brakes means firewood I think) and simple language so that his poetry could be accessed and enjoyed by everyone, even the working classes. His poetry is often written in song form as this did not rely on literacy of his audience and also showed his respect for the poorer people such as the gypsies who tended to live off the land, who usually used songs. He also liked the sonnet form of poetry which uses a simplistic structure.

    - Romantic poetry usually reflected people's hopes and fears at the time, which can be seen quite well in 'Song: The Last Day' which describes 'The stars shall turn to dun / And heaven by that darkness bowed / Shall make day's light be done.' This apocalyptic imagery reflects the fears of society, especially the working classes who were virtually powerless and had to work under harsh conditions in city factories, at the changes that were underway.

    - Romanticism was usually deeply tied to the politics of the time, although this isn't so much evident in Clare's poetry. If you want an example, in 'Song: I love to hear the evening crows go by' the line 'As if a wary watching hawk was nigh' reflects the authority of the monarchy and the hawk gives a sense of foreboding around this, because Clare wasn't really a fan of the higher powers.

    - There is a lot of religious imagery in Romantic poetry, again maybe not so much in Clare's but he does link religion with nature often, i.e. personification in 'Summer's mellowing paintbrush' in Summer Tints, and the imagery of the church standing within the pit of trees in 'The Passing Traveler' (the church being protected/interlinked with nature?). He mentions Heaven and Hell sometimes which reflects this religious quality. Clare also loves using imagery of the shepherd which is quite religious (see Summer Tints/Winter Fields).

    - Romantic poetry usually favoured a sense of self, seen in 'I Am' and 'The Forest lies alone' - The Gipsy Camp. There usually is never more than one 'individual' featured in his poetry for this reason. This reasserts the sense of self for himself and others as due to the Industrial Revolution many people lost their identity through being forced to live in packed cities.

    Some other bits not necessarily to do with Romanticism:

    - John Clare was torn between his original, uneducated rural background, and his literate poet identity, which is why he usually gives a sense of ambiguity towards his identity ('like vapours tossed' - in 'I Am')

    - Due to his depression he was institutionalised in a mental asylum for most of his life which explains the dark mood for some of his poetry.


    I might add some more later... just kinda tired from writing all that (haha). I'm sure you know most of this but this is just the main stuff that I know about Romanticism and it's really for anyone that just wants to go over some key ideas. Hope this makes sense and I didn't go off on a tangent or anything.
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    wow thanks guys for all the information,

    I'm truly dreading this exam, im doing John Clare and The Winter's Tale..

    Not looking forward to it

    Our teacher has given us all like 6 written up synopsis' of the poems and their meanings, form, structures, key quotes for the main important poems, which has been of some use,
    but still really really not looking forward to it...

    Not long to go now though, which is nice!
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    (Original post by Joelie)
    Our teacher has given us all like 6 written up synopsis' of the poems and their meanings, form, structures, key quotes for the main important poems, which has been of some use,
    but still really really not looking forward to it...
    Lucky you - we've been given nothing like that. Our tutor just suggested we "learn a few quotes that talk to us"!

    Thank you so much for the Romanticism stuff, JocastaJackal - very useful indeed.
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    No problem at all. We studied about seven or eight poems in detail, but we had to make our own synopsises/note taking. I would have recommended to only focus on three or four poems in detail that cover the question well, but that's just what we've been told to do. I dunno though, my school isn't that good so not sure how good that advice is. :P
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    I'm doing this exam on the Wednesday after next with Measure for Measure, and the number of quotes/poems I reckon I can easily reference is pretty poor to be honest :rolleyes:.

    Apart from the following, which of his poems do you guys reckon will be the most bountiful in terms of poignant points that can be pulled out? Although I do appreciate Clare's skill as a poet (it took me about nine months of studying him to do so, and I think I'm the only person in me class that does), I generally tend to shy away from his longer pieces (The Parish, for example) for fear of just not being able to concentrate.

    I know(ish):
    A Vision
    The Peasant Poet
    I am
    The Landscape Laughs in Spring
    December
    I Love To Hear the Evening Crows Go By
    The Barn Door is Open
    The Nightingale
    Summer Moods
    The Lament of Swordy Well
    The Wheat Ripening
    The Fallen Elm
    First Love's Recollections


    Any recommendations would be great .
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    (Original post by | Jamie |)
    I'm doing this exam on the Wednesday after next with Measure for Measure, and the number of quotes/poems I reckon I can easily reference is pretty poor to be honest :rolleyes:.

    Apart from the following, which of his poems do you guys reckon will be the most bountiful in terms of poignant points that can be pulled out? Although I do appreciate Clare's skill as a poet (it took me about nine months of studying him to do so, and I think I'm the only person in me class that does), I generally tend to shy away from his longer pieces (The Parish, for example) for fear of just not being able to concentrate.

    I know(ish):
    A Vision
    The Peasant Poet
    I am
    The Landscape Laughs in Spring
    December
    I Love To Hear the Evening Crows Go By
    The Barn Door is Open
    The Nightingale
    Summer Moods
    The Lament of Swordy Well
    The Wheat Ripening
    The Fallen Elm
    First Love's Recollections


    Any recommendations would be great .
    That looks like a really good list actually. I really need to look at some more of his love poems...

    Out of all that I've done I found 'The Passing Traveler' and 'The Gypsy Camp' to cover a lot of themes and are therefore really useful.

    I don't think you need to know many poems as long as they cover a lot of themes really... at least I hope not. Blah. We were told only to write in depth about three or four poems so as long as they cover lots of themes (i.e. nature, Clare's identity, agricultural/industrial revolution and so forth) it should be all good.
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    err hope this is all ok. . . just did it quickly lol


    An invite to eternity:

    • Main themes ‘dark’, ‘shadows’, ‘death’.
    • Asking and anonymous maid to go with him. Repetition of this question and of ‘say, maiden’
    • It is in the form of a love poem, however is the opposite to one, as it does not speak of love and life and joys as would be expected. He portrays the world as being a place ‘where the sun forgets the day’
    • This poem is possibly about the enclosures around land which had recently come about. He was very against this as this meant he could not roam as he liked. This links with ‘I dreaded walking where there was no path’
    • Uses a lot of repetition and other poetic devices such as similes ‘will rise like ocean waves’, ‘fade like visioned dreams’ and also oxymoron’s ‘death of life’
    • It has a very ironic and morbid tone to it. He is asking a ‘sweet maid’ to go with him and spend her life with him, and this is what he has to offer her, a lifetime ‘night and dark obscurity’

    I dreaded walking where there was no path:

    • This poem is primarily about land being enclosed and the fact that where as before he could wander where he liked, he has now ‘been on trespass in [his] walk today’.
    • Speaks of love for nature.
    • However it is also about appearance and reality
    • He says ‘the day appeared so fine’ and ‘appeared so beautiful’ which shows that there is more than what he is just seeing. This poem gives the impression he is free and can do as he pleases however whilst we are given this image he states that he ‘always feared the owner coming by’ which is then the reality.
    • its a sonnet. Poetic devices: rhyme, iambic pentameter


    To John Clare:

    • Contained in a letter he had written to his son John from the mental hospital
    • Still speaks of nature, even though he can no longer experience it as such.
    • Sonnet, but not a traditional one, just as An invite to eternity is not your ordinary love poem.
    • Speaks of life just going on as usual, all of nature, animals and men are performing normal tasks and going about as they always have. Nothing has changed. This is unusual as many of his other poems are about change.
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    That's great, thank youuu I'll post some analysis for my most useful poems a bit later on.
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    ok lmao. i can do more later, its just thats all i could come up with in 20 mins :p:
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    (Original post by emilina)
    ok lmao. i can do more later, its just thats all i could come up with in 20 mins :p:
    Haha that's pretty good for 20 mins.
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    Right, to follow up on emilina's analysis I'll post a couple of my own:

    Summer Tints:

    • 'How sweet I've wandered' - gives a sense of freedom, may be Clare's inner desire to retain this freedom with the impending agricultural revolution. 'I've' has a sense of solitude associated with Romantic poetry
    • 'Summer's mellowing paintbrush' - personifies the season, makes nature seem Godlike/divine, especially as the paintbrush is associated with creation. 'Mellowing' adds to this calming atmosphere
    • Yellow blades/...bearded corn like armies on parade - 'blades' and 'armies' are harsh words, associated with violence which juxtaposes with the relaxed scenery. This reflects Clare's, and the entire people's fears of the impending revolution. The fact that the 'blades' are hidden within nature shows the sinister quality of the agricultural machinery. Alternatively, the 'armies' within the corn could reflect Clare's belief that nature has the power to overthrow these revolutions.
    • 'Beans lightly scorched/bleachy brown' - Again shows the potential damage the agricultural revolution is having on nature, the 'bleach' representing the life being taken out of the scenery. Note the use of alliteration of the letter 'b', which is quite a harsh sound in comparison to many sounds.
    • So sweet the shepherds/stood delighted musing o'er the scene - the mention of the shepherd is quite religious, and Romantic poetry tended to have a lot of religious imagery like this. The fact that they are 'musing o'er the scene' perhaps suggests that they know such tranquility won't last, and they are making the most of it.
    • Structure is a simple rhyming scheme of ABABABABA, reflecting Romantics' admiration for simple structure in poetry.


    The Gipsy Camp:

    • The snow falls deep / The Forest lies alone: - The imagery of the deep snow represents an ancient/profound quality of nature, i.e. it is not just a thin layer of snow which can be easily swept away. The forest is personified by the capital F and its 'lying alone' - this atmosphere of solitude again reflecting Romantic ideas, but also Clare's feelings towards the world - he feels alone due to constantly trying to find his own identity between two social classes. Note that Clare was in a mental asylum when he wrote this poem.
    • 'The boy goes hasty for his load of brakes' Again this feeling of solitude with the single boy. The 'load of brakes' (firewood) is rural language often adopted by Clare and Romantic poets in general as they wanted their literature to be accessed by the masses including the working classes.
    • 'And seeks his solid camp, half hid in snow' - This imagery gives the feeling of protection, the gypsies are 'hid' in snow which is an element of nature. Shows Clare's respect for the simple people and that they deserve nature's protection.
    • 'stinking mutton' - Slightly ambiguous here as this is negative imagery surrounding the gypsies, however it may be Clare's way of saying that although he sees their flaws, he still admires them.
    • 'the half roasted dog squats' - The dog itself is an outcast among a group of outcasts (gypsies) yet is still welcome to sit close to the fire. The dog may represent Clare himself, as he often desired to live among the gypsies and felt accepted among them.
    • 'A quiet, pilfering, unprotected race' - 'Pilfering' suggests that the gypsies are in danger, and it is only a matter of time until they die out. However, Clare uses a list of three here, which suggests that although they are endangered, they are 'complete' and admirable in Clare's eyes.
    • Sonnet form reflects the Romantics' frequent use of simple structure, although only the last two lines rhyme.


    Fairly deep analysis so I'll leave it at those two for now... will post some more closer to the exam.
 
 
 
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