I Am!

I Am!

by John Clare

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 oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

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 loved 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.

Summary of I Am!

  • Popularity of “I Am”: The poem was written by John Clare, a great English poet. I am is famous for the themes of disappointment and loss. It was first published in 1848. The poem speaks about the speaker’s loneliness and its effects on life. He illustrates how the abandonment of his friends causes unbearable pain to him.
  • “I Am” As a Representative of Sorrow: This poem is an expression of sorrow as the speaker expresses the acute pain after being rejected by his friends. He is alive but no one cares about him. As he is abandoned by his friends, he has no one to share his pain and sufferings with. He is gloomy and depressed because his best friends are now strangers to him. This horrific isolation makes him think about life after  He recalls having lots of people around. Indirectly, the poem talks about friends who are with us during the good time and leave otherwise. He longs for heaven to be with God to find eternal joy.
  • Major Themes in “I Am”: Sadness, disappointment, and loneliness are the major themes of this poem. The poem reflects the behavior of people who do not try to look a the positive side in life. After his friends and family leave him, the speaker of the poem is facing heart-wrenching isolation that forces him too long for death.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “I Am”

Literary devices bring richness to the text and clarify the hidden message used by the writer or poet. John Clare has also made this poem superb by using figurative language. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /e / in “Where there is neither sense of life or joys” and the sound of /uh/ in “Untroubling and untroubled where I lie”.
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “I am” is used in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the importance of the poet’s voice.

“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 oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.”

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /f/ in “My friends forsake me like a memory lost” and the sound of /w/ in “A place where woman never smiled or wept” and the sound of /s/ in “And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept”.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /m/ in “I am the self-consumer of my woes” and the sound of /th/ in “Even the dearest that I loved the best.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes”, “And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept” and “But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. There is only one metaphor used in the second line of the second stanza. For example, “Into the living sea of waking dreams”. Here the dreams are compared to the sea.
  3. Simile: It is a figure of speech used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “My friends forsake me like a memory lost”. Here the friends are compared to the speaker’s memory.

 Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “I Am”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “sky/lie”, “best/reset” and “trod/God.”
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The entire poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme.
  3. Sestet: A sestet is a six lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. The poem composed of three sestets.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of verses or lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each having six verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about the concept of life after death.

“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.”