Love in all its forms, from blessed matrimony to crippling betrayal, has been the poet’s canvas, marred by violent, disconnected, bold strokes, with a lot of detail but no form. How can one define something that is so unique for the individual beholder, and yet common themes run deep and have become metaphors more easily attributed and immediately understood than the word ‘love’ itself.
The first point of note is the familiarity of the language used by John Clare in the nineteenth century to the anecdotal stereotypes and euphemisms of medieval literature and contempory rap lyrics. Love can be defined by its confusing ability to remain indefinable by perfect boundaries and text, but, also, it has a changeless and non-temporal aspect that elevates it to the realm of the divine and eternal.
This famous poem is in no way unique nor ground-breaking. Its subject matter is irrecoverably flawed and thus so is its description. The words are tired and unoriginal but apt and familiar to the reader. It is a personal reaction, written with timeless, impersonal typography that any soul can relate to. It is benign and clichéd, making no attempt to be otherwise nor to hold secrets or knowledge hitherto unspoken.
The main focus of Clare’s work is in the physical, bodily reaction linking emotion to survival and health, a point frequently coined since ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ and highlighting the importance of the psychology to the chemical.
It is important to note that the title of the piece is "First Love". When a situation is experienced for the first time it is often unrecognised or defined, but Clare clearly states this as "Love" without arguing what "love" is. The poem addresses basic concepts and attributes them to feeling. The hyperbole of reaction is gleaned merely from a brief encounter, a first impression, and lacks depth. Terming this as "love" is almost an insult, baseless as first experiences are and superficial, merely responding to...
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