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John Clare: Selected Poetry and Prose (Routledge English Texts) Paperback – 20 Nov 1986

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Product details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; First Edition edition (20 Nov. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0416411207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0416411201
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,401,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Clare's poems and prose are available in a dozen editions, but none. . .has the value of the Williams' "Introduction."-"Times Education Supplement

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rambling Sid Rumpo on 24 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Features Raymond and Merryn Williams' essential intro and afterword on John Clare. Wonderful edition now long out of print.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The eye of a naturalist, the voice of a poet 1 Aug. 2012
By William Timothy Lukeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I completely agree with the previous reviewer -- John Clare's poetry is unjustly neglected, and definitely deserves to be ranked with that of his Romantic contemporaries. More so, in fact, as Clare was the authentic voice of the country & its folk that Wordsworth aspired to himself. Perhaps it's that Clare's mental breakdown later in life & his confinement to an asylum has overshadowed the simplicity, freshness & precision of his poetry -- his life becoming the focus of attention, rather than his work.

This is a pity, because Clare not only has a distinctive voice & a discerning eye, he has a deeply feeling, sensitive heart. In fact in more than one poem, he allows the countryside itself to speak, detailing both its richness & the irreparable damage men have done in their hunger to exploit it. Yet he never becomes mawkish or overly sentimental in the manner of the blatantly artificial pastoral. Born & bred in the country, he's just as aware of its harshness & petty cruelties as he is of its beauties. He describes both the homely & the fleetingly lovely.

From "Sheep in Winter" -

The sheep get up and make their many tracks
And bear a load of snow upon their backs
And gnaw the frozen turnip to the ground
With sharp quick bite and then go noising round

From "The Ragwort" -

Ragwort thou humble flower with tattered leaves
I love to see thee come and litter gold
What time the summer binds her russet sheaves
Decking rude spots in beautys marigold
That without thee were dreary to behold

From "Hedge Sparrow" -

In early march it into gardens strays
And in the snug clipt box tree green and round
It makes a nest of moss and hair and lays
When een the snow is lurking on the ground
Its eggs in number five of greenish blue
Bright beautiful and glossy shining shells
Much like the firetails but of brighter hue

He captures the habits & traits of every living thing he sees, simply describing all with a clear but lyrical line. His hatred for needless cruelty towards other animals is evident in many of his poems -- as one who never quite fit in, not among his fellow country folk nor among the sophisticates of town, he often felt the sting of loneliness & quick mockery himself.

This superb collection also includes excerpts from his letters & other prose writings. Editors Merryn & Raymond Williams provide the basic biography & timeline, a thoughtful appreciation of his style & work, and informative notes on individual poems. There's also a useful glossary of the now-archaic dialect words that came so naturally to Clare. I don't think you could find a better introduction to this wonderful poet, whose work has only grown in immediacy & meaning since his death.

Most highly recommended!
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