First Love by John Clare
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This is an anthology of thoughts on First Love by John Clare, brainstormed version, not classified.
The poem “First Love” is about John Clare falling in love for the first time. The poet explains what happens to him when he falls in love for the first time, and how his world and perspective view changes. He tells us what happened to him when he fell in love by saying “I ne’er was struck before that hour with love so sudden and so sweet” which suggests that he has fallen in love at first sight. He also conveys his message to us by saying “My life and all seemed to turn to clay”, which that his life changed and he is now changing into his new self as clay’s properties are that clay can be changed into different shapes. He also tells us how his face turned red by writing “And then my blood rushed to my face”, which suggests that he is in love with a person next to him
The poem ‘First Love’ is about experiencing young love for the very first time. In the beginning, he mentions, ‘I ne’er was struck before that hour’, telling us that he was hit by cupid’s arrow or suddenly struck in the face when he saw her. The poet is very descriptive, and uses alliteration to give the sentence a soft sound of love, for example: ‘With love so sudden and so sweet’. In the first stanza, he’s describing his lonely existence before he got struck by the love of his life; this is why he used the pronoun ‘I’ to reinforce his solitary existence. In the first stanza he shows an internal monologue, it is as if he is writing down the thoughts that his mind was telling him when he saw her.
In the second stanza he starts to describe with more intensity, saying ‘Words from my eyes did start, they spoke as cords do from strings’. This tells us that he heard Cupids, the little angels romantically playing the violin. He was having an immediate connection, speaking to her through his eyes. In the third stanza, by the way the poet writes we can tell a sudden touch of sadness. He writes, ‘Are flowers the winters choice, Is love’s bed as always snow…’ this tells us that the love of his life is giving him the cold shoulder, and that he is in his own winter of love, meaning cold and darkness. At the one of the third stanza he mentions that she took is heart, and can return it no more.
Clare conveys his message through the rhythm and through the distinct beats of the iambic pentameter. He also expresses his message through all the metaphors used, and the words that describe a certain stage of the poet’s feeling. At the beginning of the stanza, Clare starts by writing down the thought he heard while he saw her. In the second stanza, he describes his feeling and what he felt, like he’s trying to figure out what love is. He explains that ‘Blood burnt round my heart’ when he saw her, giving a sense of strong passion and his heart beating rapidly. As he gets to the last stanza, Clare mentions his loneliness, and how the girl she loves stole his heart poem generally refers to the first love John Clare had, how he didn’t manage to stay with that love. The poet mainly talks about how tragic he had felt about love; the first love that had no future. He also describes the painful experience he had when he mentions words such as “blood” which symbolizes the agony and all the suffering he passed through.
This poem, as we can see, is an irregular poem because it starts off with a happy feeling about love, how it can impact us and make us feel joy. Then, it gets blood-stained with sorrow and pain, since he cannot be with her; it shows us the agony felt when our first love cannot come to be. Afterwards, he starts to question why and states that he will never love again; shows us the loneliness when that love is gone and can’t come back again. Stanza one refers to the happiness and joy he felt when he had seen and met that new love.
The first line unites itself to the title, because the poet mentions: “I ne’er was struck before that hour”, this means he had never felt such a feeling before; this refers to the title as first love, since it was the first time he felt it. He uses a bit of foreshadowing in the 7th line, which says, “And when she looked; what could I ail?”, the last part of this line is a foreshadowing because he asks himself what wrong could this love do or what pain could it cause, this gives us hints on how the poem will continue into a sadder tone. This stanza mainly talks about how sweet his love was. Stanza two refers to the pain he was starting to feel because he couldn’t be with his love. He uses words like “blood” to express that pain. The second line of the this stanza, “took my eyesight away” means that he could no longer see between what was right or wrong to get that love. The fourth line, “seemed midnight at noonday” means that the feeling was very dark; the atmosphere was full of sadness and confusion even if the atmosphere around him was quite light and happy, full of joy.
In the fifth line, “I could not see a single thing” means that he was blind, and with more or less the same concept as the second line of this same stanza; he could no longer see between what was good or bad, right or wrong. The sixth line, “words from my eyes did start” means that his eyes gave away his feelings. The last line of the stanza, “and blood burnt round my heart” the poet uses “blood” to reflect on the pain and agony he was going through, the reddish colour of the liquid was used to refer to the passion and love he had, in other words “blood” means the pain in that intense passion and the nostalgic love he was feeling, all in a very negative feeling of rejection and suffering. In stanza three, refers to the confusion, doubt and sorrow he was feeling. The poet uses natural symbolism such as “winter” and “snow” to refer to this grieve he was experiencing, he also uses “silent” to add more into that feeling.
The first and second lines, end with a question mark, this means he was asking himself why he couldn’t be with the one he loved so much. The third line, “she seemed to hear my silent voice” means that she knew that he was so deeply in love with her. The fourth line, “Not love’s appeals to know” means that even though she knew what he felt, she hadn’t request to know about that love. In other words, she knew from a start he could not be with her, therefore didn’t want to know about what he felt for her. The fifth and sixth line means the he will never be able to see another love as sweet as her. The last two lines mean that his heart has left its place, meaning she was gone; could also be his heart was not there anymore to feel another love; a use of personification. His love had gone and never to come back; love had left him a changed man.
The poet uses an old fashioned language, which makes the poem have that deep romantic feeling it has between the words. He conveys his message by using lots of metaphors, hyperboles and similes, which will reinforce his ideas and make the ways he expresses stronger, giving us an impact of different feelings. The poet also uses a lot of personification throughout the entire poem, for example: stanza one, sixth line, “My legs refused to walk away” as well as in stanza two, sixth line, “word from my eyes did start” also in stanza three, sixth line, “My heart left its dwelling place”. We can see that the poet uses at least one personification per stanza and mostly in the
sixth line of each stanza.