I have often enjoyed the poem, ‘I Am’ by John Clare. The original has a melancholy feel to it, as the poet longs for a time and place that he seems to feel is lost to him.
As I was reading this the other week, it struck me that this place he seems to so long for is what many of us point to as already freely present. So, I decided to re-imagine Clare’s beautiful poem from a different perspective.
I Am – Re-Imagined
I am: yet what I am none cares or knows
How sweet to be what can never be lost;
I am the container for words and woes
They rise and vanish in this vast host
Like infinite shades of love and loss
And yet I am! and live as waves that toss
And lap and swell and crash with noise
Into the living sea of waking sight
Where there is both sense of life and joys
And the vast voyage of my life’s flight.
And even the strangest – that I feared the most –
are dear – and welcomed by this host.
I wander free when man has never trod;
This place where women smile and weep
Abiding free with our creator, God,
And sleep as we in childhood sweetly slept:
Undisturbed and softly where I lie;
The grass below – above the endless sky.
The original poem is here below, in full:
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 shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost
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 smil’d 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.