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 shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am, and live with shadows tossed
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
And e’en the dearest -that I loved the best -
Are strange -nay, rather stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man has 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.
Poem by John Clare, 1793 – 1864
I have referred to Clare’s poetry ever since I can remember and he has inspired me greatly throughout my life. I can see him clearly in this painting. His pain and agony no longer present, freedom to roam, write and dance with the beloved Mary Joyce; whom he loved so dearly.