How Does the Poet Explore His Feelings for Nature in Sonnet by John Clare

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How does the poet reveal his feelings about nature in the poem Sonnet by John Clare?

John Clare (1793-1864) was rare in his day for being a working class poet. His schooling ended at age 11 when he followed in his father's footsteps to become a hedge-setter. Living and working in the open air, many of his poems are about nature. 'Sonnet' is one of these – revealing his sheer joy and love of Summer.

Clare spent much of his adult life in an insane assylum; Sonnet was written when he briefly escaped in 1841. The poem describes a vibrant Summer's day by a lake and has an intense sense of joy and freedom. It is full of powerful imagery – even his metaphors are often drawn from nature 'reed clumps rustle like a wind shook wood ', likening one thing in nature to another almost as though the outside, man-made world did not exist in that moment in time, or he wanted to eliminate it from his consciousness. Perhaps, locked inside his own world, it did not exist for him.

The fact that Clare chose to write his poem as a sonnet, a poetic form usually associated with love, reveals the depth of his passion for nature: he cares for it as deeply as he would a lover. The willow is bending over the lake almost as if it is stooping to caress or embrace the water like a lover. The repeated use of 'I love...': 'I love to see the summer beaming forth', 'I love to see the wild flowers come again ' underlines his passion.

The use of rhyming couplets 'I love to see the summer beaming forth And white wool sack clouds sailing to the north' creates a soothing rhythm helping us to envisage the serene Summer scene by the lake. This simple rhythm and the repetition seems almost childlike conveying a wistfulness for the simple joys and carefree days of childhood. Clare's use of simple vocabulary and dialect words 'mare blobs', 'flags' emphasises the simplicity and uncomplicatedness of the subject.

As the poem progresses our view narrows from the infinite view of the sky...
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