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"I Am" The Selected Poetry of John Clare

John Clare; Edited by Jonathan Bate

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374528691

9780374528690

Trade Paperback

344 Pages

$27.00

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John Clare (1793-1864) remains the great "peasant poet" of English literature, as well as one of our finest nature writers. In this anthology—the first to mine the entire range of Clare's verse—Bate fully reveals his mastery. In the pages of "I Am", we encounter the tender chronicler of nature and childhood; the champion of folkways amid oppression; the passionate, sweet-tongued love poet; and the lonely visionary confined (in old age and senility) to asylums.

REVIEWS

Praise for "I Am"

"[Clare is] a poet of the first rank."—Eric Gudas, The Bloomsbury Review

"[These poems were chosen with] editorial sensitivity and care . . . [An] extremely welcome gathering."—Thomas R. Smith, Ruminator Review

"[An] admirable new selection."—James Fenton, The New York Review of Books

"The broadest and most reliable sample of Clare's work now available, ranging from 'early poems' through to poems written in the Northampton asylum, and showing on every page how Clare deserves a place alongside his great Romantic contemporaries . . . Now we can see clearly, and as Clare meant us to see, the scope as well as the substance of his work: the density of his sonnet-writing as well as its detailing; the structure as well as the strangeness of his satires; and the discipline as well as heartbreak of his wonderful natural elegies."—Andrew Motion, The Guardian

"No poet, living or dead, sets before us with more un-ego-clouded immediacy nature's busy, juicy surface activity [than Clare]."—Jeredith Merrin, The Southern Review

"An essential complement to Bate's deservedly praised new biography of Clare."—Jeremy Treglown, The Times Literary Supplement

"Bate is right [that] John Clare is a major Romantic who belongs beside Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats."—Susan Balée, The Weekly Standard

"Clare grabs hold of you—no, he doesn't grab hold of you, he is already there, talking to you before you've arrived on the scene, telling you about himself, about the things that are closest and dearest to him, and it would no more occur to him to do otherwise than it would occur to Whitman to stop singing you his song of himself."—John Ashbery, Other Traditions

"I find myself repeating whole poems of Clare's without having made a conscious effort to memorize them. And though it was taken as a symptom of madness that he one day confided in a visitor: 'I know Gray—I know him well,' I shall risk saying here, with equal affection: 'I know Clare; I know him well. We have often wept together.'"—Robert Graves, The Crowning Privilege

"What distinguishes Clare is an unspectacular joy and a love for the inexorable one-thing-after-anotherness of the world."—Seamus Heaney

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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John Clare (1793-1864) lived all his life in rural Northamptonshire. He is widely celebrated as one of England's great nature and folklife writers.

Jonathan Bate is the author of Shakespeare and Ovid (1993) and The Genius of Shakespeare (1997). He is Leverhulme Research Professor and King Alfred Professor of English at the University of Warwick.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • John Clare; Edited by Jonathan Bate

  • John Clare (1793-1864) lived all his life in rural Northamptonshire. He is widely celebrated as one of England's great nature and folklife writers.

    Jonathan Bate is the author of Shakespeare and Ovid (1993) and The Genius of Shakespeare (1997). He is Leverhulme Research Professor of English Literature at the University of Warwick.
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