by John Clare (1793 - 1864)

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows
Language: English 
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]1 oblivious host,
[Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost]2;
And yet I am, [and live with shadows tossed]3

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking [dreams]4,
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 -]5
Are strange - nay, [rather]6 stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod,
A place where woman never smiled or wept;
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
[Untroubling and untroubled where I lie]7, -
The grass below - above the vaulted sky.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Muhly: "an"
2 Muhly: "Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost"
3 Muhly: "- I live - though I am toss'd"
4 Muhly: "dream"
5 Muhly: "But the huge shipwreck of my own extreme and all that's dear./ Even those I loved the best"
6 Muhly: "they are"
7 Muhly: "Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Bertram Kottmann , "Ich bin", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission ; composed by Gary Bachlund.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2005-12-19
Line count: 18
Word count: 147