John Clare - I Am - Christopher Ricks

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Professor Christopher Ricks reads John Clare's I Am

I Am
by John Clare (1793-1864)

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 oblivion's host,
Like shadows in love's frenzied stifled throes:
And yet I am, and live — like vapours toss't

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 love 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.

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