“Self Identity is one of the finest principles in everybodys life,” John Clare observed, differing from John Keats, a contemporary whom Clare admired and who claimed, contrarily, “the poet has ... no identity”. Identity remained a vexed and central issue for Clare right to the end of his life, as two late famous lyrics testify, both entitled “I Am”. “I am,” declares the first line of one, “yet what I am, none cares or knows”; the second begins, “I feel I am; – I only know I am.” By the time of composing these poems, Clare had been consigned to the confines of an asylum at High Beach. Committed to such an institution (he was later moved to …
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Miller, Eric. "John Clare". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
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