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"I am" by John Clare

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by

Akua Ayoluuwa

on 22 December 2014

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Transcript of "I am" by John Clare

John Clare was born in July of 1793. He was born an English peasant and although he was the son of illiterate parents, he went to "formal" school. He started working when he was very young and used the money to publish his poetry. He married a woman named Martha and during his marriage he wrote his greatest pieces. His income suddenly started increasing, something he was not used to. After his income decreased he began to get worried for himself and instituted himself into an asylum. After four years he escaped and had to walk miles to get to his home town. He went looking for his first love, Mary Joyce and told her family that he was married to her. He had been hallucinating that he was married to two women and had children with both. When Mary's family told him that he was not married to her and that she had died in a fire years before, Clare went crazy. He was taken to Martha, his actual wife, who put him in General Lunatic Asylum. It was in this Asylum that he created his most famous poems, one of which was 'I am' (written in 1844 or 1845). John Clare died in 1864 when he was 71 years old.
About the Author
Our analysis
Implicit meaning
- The group has said that the speaker of the poem represents the lower class. In the Victorian age, the lower class felt lost and forgotten/abandon in the shadows.
“And yet I am! and live with shadows tost”

In the last stanza, we read the speaker wanting to go to a place where there is no troubles, it is implied that he does not want to a happy life, he wants to die and be in peace. Peace meant hope, the lower class hoped for a better life where they did not have struggles and lived a good life.

Analysis Continued
Explicit Meaning
- In "I Am" the speaker of the poem uses the words "I Am" to reaffirm his existence. He has been forgotten and abandoned, but despite all of this he is still alive. Despite the sadness that has overcome him and the tragedy that fell upon him, he was still alive. And yet, the speaker wants something more. He speaks of a land where he belongs and does not have to constantly reaffirm his existence to be noticed, a land where he can finally rest in peace. To the speaker death and peace are one and the same.
Literary Device
Euphemism- word, phrase expression used to substitute one that is too harsh when referring to something unpleasant, embarrassing or offensive.

Examples:
-Passed away instead of died.
-Batting for the other side instead of saying homosexual
-Blowing chunks instead of vomiting
-Appearance deficit instead of saying ugly
-Break wind instead of saying fart
analysis of a poem
"I am" by John Clare
By: Scarlet, Akua, Jhenifer, Harry, Kathryn,
Nancy and Kendra

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 oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest-- that I loved the best--
Are strange --nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.
I AM
DISCUSS
-The implicit meaning (how it relates to the Victorian era)
-The explicit meaning what you derive from the text
-How the literary technique is used and how it develops the meaning of the poem
And Another Slide on our Analysis
How euphemism is used in the poem: third stanza says "there to abide with my creator, God, and sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept..." the speaker indirectly states his wish for death in a way that is less harsh by saying "with my creator." This shows that the speaker is not necessarily suicidal but wishes for death because death for him is the way he can be at peace.
Full transcript