Ann Klefstad's Reviews > "I Am": The Selected Poetry of John Clare

"I Am" by John Clare
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Dec 21, 08


I do not know this collection, but John Clare's poetry is one of the most moving bodies of work anywhere. I feel much akin to Clare, as someone who emerged from the most backward of rural places, and who is haunted by the fact that that place made me, created my potentials, gave me its sensual and harsh nature, so I feel responsible to it.

John Clare bore this burden much more heavily, and more responsibly, than I, as he was the only--the only--voice saying anything like what he said, and somehow noone really understood its import. In some ways he himself did, but his role was not one that could be borne alone, and it broke him.

I first heard his name in a John Berryman poem, where Berryman calls him "that sweet man, John Clare." No better phrase, no better praise, could be devised.
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