John Clare was a poor agricultural labour born in England, 1793, however he was later discovered for his talent in writing poems and he spent the rest of his life writing powerful, natural poems. The poem “First Love” was written by John Clare around 1800′s about his first love, Mary Joyce. She was the daughter of a wealthy farmer, who forbade John from seeing Mary. John Clare eventually married in 1820, the same year that he published his first book of poems. But soon stress and depression overtook John Clare and he was admitted to a mental asylum in 1837. He had become delusional, and imagined himself to have married Mary Joyce. John Clare spent the rest of his life in the mental asylum and eventually died in 1864.
This 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.