John Clare First Love English Literary Essay On Love Poetry

1140 words - 5 pages

This poem hit the spot. Mentally that is. Why? Well, when I first heard of the assignment I knew immediately what the poem had to convey: first love. There is nothing sweeter, more captivating than that first glance at love. It had to display the awkward feelings of love, the power of looking at each other, a poem that would describe the ye oulde 'butterflies in the stomach' but in a closer to life way. In addition, it had to pack a sort of negative outcome of first love because it is not always perfect. When I began my search I must admit I avoided any sonnet or love filled poem written by Mr. Shakespeare. He has reigned with his sceptre long enough; moreover I don't really like his sonnets. True, they are full of beautiful imagery and great metaphors but they don't have a familiar feeling. Then I found it, First Love, by John Clare. It had all the elements I wanted. Love poetry has never been my favourite type of poetry but First love has my blessing.First impressionsAfter I read it for the first time I kept straying from it to personal experiences. Well, actually 'experience' because there is only one first love. I think everybody who reads this poem will have that. So the poem already has that attractive power. It lays in the familiarity of the theme and its straightforwardness and simplicity but I will get back to that (see section Form). A second attempt got me to focus on the contents. It is written from a first person view and the main character tells us without beating around the bush what he's feeling. He opens by confessing that he has never been struck like that before: he has been hit and feels disorientated. He describes the feelings of falling in love using a description of the sense." My face turned pale, a deadly pale ... My legs refused to walk away ..."But although the poem appears to have this light-hearted, sweet theme, it does conclude with a rather ominous stanza, which could mean 2 things: the power of first love or the rejecting of first love." My heart has left its dwelling place ... And can return no more ..."Content & imageryThe poem shows the intensity of first love and the passion we derive from it. It is like the author tells us his personal tale of when he was struck with first love. Since that day he has never been the same. The only thing we ever get to know of his love interest is the beauty of her face ("Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower .../I never saw so sweet a face"). This shows the chastise nature of the poem: remember this is a poem from the Victorian period. But it could also show the interest of the main character: the beauty of her face swept him of his feet and it was all he remembers. In the first stanza already he has already lost his heart to this beautiful face. So the poem isn't as much about the beauty of the opposite (as many sonnets are), it is more about emotional impact that beauty has for example, if she looked at him he just froze up ("My life and all seemed turned to clay")....

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