"I Am" and the unveiling of the new Clare display...

A Message from the President of the John Clare Society

This was John Clare’s church.  He was baptised in it and buried beside it.  He wrote of its “wholesome and reasonable admonitions” but its message reached him via its bells as it did so many countrymen.

The shepherds and the herding swains
Keep their Sabbath on the plains ..
For them the church bells vainly call
Fields are their church and house and all

Amongst so many things, Clare was also an archaeologist and his wandering gaze would have travelled round this ancient building, settling maybe on the carved stone leaves.  It is a moving experience to see what a great writer saw, to hear the music which he heard.  Most of those who Clare put into his poetry sat here, were wed here, played around here.  Charles Mossop the Vicar was good to him here, extraordinary parishioner that he was.  Clare’s God would break all parochial bounds in the majestic statement ‘I Am’.

Ronald Blythe

The above text appears on the new new display about John Clare and St. Botolph's Church Helpston - to be dedicated at the John Clare Society Festival Service on the 14th July 2013.

'I AM'

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky. 

1 comment:

Arborfield said...

A little something I've just come across : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqwL9id1uz4