Poet John Clare's home renovated to celebrate rural Britain

The educational centre in Cambridgeshire is dedicated to his odes to ants, April daisies and other natural world minutiae.

Jonathan Bate, a Romantic poetry professor and the author of a biography on the poet, said Clare had hugely influenced modern poets writing on the environment. "Many of the young poets interested in the environment today, such as John Burnside, Paul Farley, and Alice Oswald, are deeply influenced by Clare," he said. "It's partly his style of writing about nature with great precision, but also his concern with the local. His imagination is always grounded in a sense of place, which is a huge issue for modern poets - being universal by being local."

The former poet laureate Andrew Motion wrote of him: "Clare may not have the epic sweep of Wordsworth, or the compact excellence of Keats at his best, or the intellectual depth of Coleridge, but his best writing combines sharp seeing and deep feeling to a pitch of greatness." The son of a farm labourer, Clare also wrote poetry on unrequited love, the sometimes fragile nature of his mental health – he was twice admitted to asylums – and described the natural world in his local vernacular rather than the standard English deployed by his Romantic peers. The process of water beginning to freeze is known as "crizzling", stumps of trees are "stulps", and meddling is "proggling".

Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: "John Clare wrote some of his most memorable work in Helpston, labouring for much of his life in the fields of the English countryside, and this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate one of our nation's most important poets. Our funding has transformed the Clare cottage site and has enabled the important education programme inspiring visitors to share in his creativity and love of the environment and the English countryside."
The Guardian - 9th July 2009 (Excerpt & Photo)
Click on the title for the full article.

1 comment:

Simona C said...

Roger, compliments for your detailed summary!!!
I wish I had been there..... next year perhaps!!