First Advisor

Ray Mariels

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English






John Clare (1793-1864) -- Criticism and interpretation, John Keats (1795-1821) -- Criticism and interpretation, English love poetry -- History and criticism



Physical Description

1 online resource (111 p.)


This study addresses lesser known works of romantic poets John Clare and John Keats--Clare's Child Harold and Keats's poems to Fanny Brawne--which I refer to as their love poems because the works are informed by intense feelings the poets had for women they loved. Although these works have been the brunt of negative criticism because Clare was considered insane at the time of the composition of Child Harold and Keats was accused of using the poems to give vent to his personal sufferings, nonetheless I argue that the love poems are significant for several reasons. They are a reflection of the poets' personal experiences and also demonstrate their remarkable and surprisingly similar creative abilities in the way they use poetry as a means of devising new strategies for dealing with the painful realities of their disturbing lives. And because I feel it is important to understand Clare's and Keats's feelings for the women they love in order to understand their poetry (since the poetry is, after all, based on real life experiences), I provide chapters describing the poets's lives and loves, as well as their poetic processes, to serve as a framework for examining the poems. In the remaining chapters, I show how the poets incorporate highly sophisticated metaphor in attempting to reconcile the apparent conflicts the speakers in their poems are experiencing between their subjective responses to, and their rational assessment of human existence. In the process, the speakers experience various states of emotional upheaval ranging from what I refer to as periods of limbo, purgatory, and paradise, and they create personal thresholds and undergo differing states of self-awareness. In the final chapter I provide a summary of how these different emotional states are metaphorically effected, and then attempt to explain the value of Clare's and Keats's poetic achievements in the poems from a current perspective.


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