The Early Poems of John Clare, 1804-1822: Volume I

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For the first time all Clare's early poems are brought together with all known variants, and with Clare's characteristic vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and punctuation preserved. Through this collection, ranging from juvenilia to the published poems that first established his reputation with Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery and The Village Minstrel, it becomes clear how many more poems Clare composed in these early years than have previously seen the light of day. Strenuous efforts have been made to recover poems obliterated in some of Clare's first manuscripts, and the complete text of The Parish, his major satirical poem, is included. A glossary is provided for both volumes, together with extensive annotation. Clare's own dating of his first poems is employed and every attempt has been made to establish a reliable chronology. This edition provides the first reliable basis for a new assessment of Clare's poetic growth, allowing his increasing assurance as a poet writing in a characteristic idiom of his own to be traced, and demonstrating how surprisingly early his individuality as a poet emerged.