John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

The following lines are very touching, when it is remembered that they are the pensive utterances of a soul ill at ease from the very frailty of the tabernacle in which it is confined—a house too fragile for the strong spirit within it—the cause at once of every poet’s madness. His organic sensibility, his nervous nature responding to every varying tone and intimation, and his strong soul desiring to overleap the material pales and boundaries, and live entirely in the land, visiting it in his poetic dreamings, —‘Sighing for Retirement’.

[Quotes; also quotes ‘To the Nightingale’; ‘Home Happiness’; ‘On an Infant Killed by Lightning’]


103.

A biographical sketch of Clare

1856

From Men of the Times, Biographical Sketches of Eminent Living Characters, new edition, 1856, pp. 155-6.

This new edition of a popular work was edited by Alaric Watts (see No. 97). Earlier editions (the first appeared in 1852) had no mention of Clare.

For some years past Clare has been living in a state of mild lunacy, his chief delusion being that all the best poetry of Byron, Wordsworth, Campbell, and others, was written by him! He is allowed to wander about at will, although perfectly unconscious. For many years he has been wholly lost to the world, without any hope of his restoration. The last volume published by him, in 1836 [sic], previous to his illness, The Rural Muse, presents a vast improvement on its predecessors, and contains many poems of great simplicity and beauty. Without being chargeable with want of originality, moreover, they display an

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