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 shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled 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.
John Clare (1793 – 1864) was an English poet. The son of a farm laborer born in the English village of Helpstonhe. He became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and sorrows at its disruption. With little formal education, Clare wrote numerous poems and prose pieces. His work was first published in 1820 with more published posthumously. He is now seen as a major 19th-century poet after his work underwent major re-evaluation in the late 20th century.