'I Am' by John Clare (Poem Analysis)

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“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. The poem is a generalized look at life and makes people realise that the events and experiences that a person has are really self-reliant. You live alone and you die alone. It seems that this poem was written toward the end of his life. The biographical information may be important to this poem, but it seems to be a summarization of life, rather than a poem discussing a difficult time. All throughout his life, he had been plagued with the responsibility of existence and his identity; he tried to escape from it but to no avail. “I Am” is a short poem of three six-line stanzas. Each stanza has a regular iambic pentameter. The whole poem contains rich language that elaborates upon the struggles of identity, depression, and the passive longing for the innocence of a childhood and everlasting peace. The poem is full of religious connotations, therefore fitting with the Romantic period. One such connotation would be "The grass below - above the vaulted sky". ‘Vaulted’ is often used to refer to the wooden beams used in the ceiling in a cathedral. The first stanza is an enquiry into the identity of self, which is emphasised by the multiple repetition of the phrase ‘I am’ in that stanza. The poem also acts as an address to the world that he...
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