John Clare, the ‘rhyming peasant’: poetry of dwelling and displacement in the late Romantic period. We shall explore Clare’s unique voice in English poetry through a reading of select poems about nature and his local environment in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Clare is arguably England’s greatest poet of nature and the environment. ‘I kicked it out of the clods,’ he said. What were the impulses and influences which generated such a unique voice in poetry? We shall read poems and prose about what lies under a hedge, as well as about boundless vistas; about particular birds and trees, as well as the effects of loss of home and his parochial landscape. We shall consider the social and economic circumstances, in the first half of the nineteenth century, which fuelled his protest poems. And we shall look at his final displacement in madness.