With love so sudden and so sweet.
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked what could I ail
My life and all seemed turned to clay.
And took my eyesight quite away.
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
Words from my eyes did start.
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.
Is love's bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice
Not love appeals to know.
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling place
And can return no more.
John Clare, was the ‘forgotten romantic poet’ of English literature. While Tennyson, Wordsworth and Keats achieved fame and made a living from their writing, Clare never rose from his humble origins. Clare was an impoverished agricultural labourer, who never rose above this situation, despite writing some of the most beautiful poems in the English language.
‘First Love’ was written about Clare’s first love, Mary Joyce, the daughter of a wealthy
farmer, who forbade her from seeing him. Clare never really recovered from this rejection, and in his later life, he entered a mental asylum. This was a sad end to a truly spectacular love.
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