Poem Analysis of John Clare's "First Love"

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harryMcArthur 5A

The poem First Love by John Clare is written about the poet's feelings of unrequited love for a wealthy farmer's daughter, Mary Joyce. The poet uses various unusual effects in the poem to convey this sense of loss, providing deep insights into his mind in a seemingly simple and brief piece. Combined with words which reflect the mood in each verse, these make it a very powerful poem.

An unusual form of contrast is used in First Love to create a powerful effect. The use of limited vocabulary is part of this, evident throughout the poem. The repetition of “sweet” suggests that the poet has not, or cannot, think of another adjective. This is further shown in the way that he starts the second stanza with “and then”, a very informal and unusual opening in a poem. Combined with this, an informal tone is developed with the use of phrases such as “blood rushed to my face” and “I never saw so sweet a face”. Despite this informal tone, the message of the poem is very insightful, as it shows a view into the poet's mind. Rhythm in the poem is key to this, creating six sections in the poem, with the rhyme scheme for each being A, B, A, B, or for example “hour”, “sweet”, “flower”, “complete”. These sections of four lines each can be seen as individual thoughts of Clare, as they each deal with a slightly separate topic. Rhetorical questions such as “Is love's bed always snow” also contribute to this effect, as they are almost addressed back to the poet, providing an insight into his mind. Creating a thoughtful, musing atmosphere, these make First Love a powerful poem by contrasting the deep insights into the poet's mind and the effects this love has had on him with the simple tone and vocabulary.

Divided into three stanzas, the poems examines the consequences of John Clare's unrequited love for Mary Joyce. Stanza one deals with his initial effects she has on him, such as the total awe and shock at her beauty. In the first line, "struck" and "hour"...
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