First Love by John Clare
First Love “First Love” by John Clare is a poem that explains something that everyone will usually endure in his or her life; the emotional journey of falling in love for the first time. The brief 24 line poem attacks the emotions of the reader and lures the reader into the poem by envisioning or reminiscing of the reader’s first love. John Clare writes about how he falls in love for the first time and his perspective from the first meeting to the end.
The poem is structured with a rhyming scheme of every other line in an abab pattern.
The poem is broken into three phases of a first love: the meeting of one’s first love, then the connection and being with the person, and finally the end of the first love. The poem begins with “I ne’er was struck before that hour. ” This opening line suggests that the writer has been struck by love at first sight. He continues to support this with saying how it is sudden and sweet. The implication here is that it is young first love. With each line, the writer continues to support the next.
With the implication of young first love, he supports this youthfulness with a simile writing in the next line; the girls face like a sweet flower. This can be transcribed as a young lady growing up to be a woman. The next two lines express how she took his heart and took his breath away; turning him pale. This was such a shock to him that he could not move and was paralyzed to the point his legs couldn’t move. In addition to shock, he could also mean that he didn’t want to leave or stop looking at here.
The last two lines of this stanza, represents when she looks at him, he could do nothing but melt and molded towards being with her. This is the change everyone goes through when falling in love. Your life changes and must adjust to the new relationship. The second stanza begins with “And then my blood rushed to my face. ” He is expressing his feelings stating how he blushes when around his love. A majority of people have been blinded by love. John Clare writes of this loss of vision by stating his eyesight is taken away and could not see a single thing.
In addition to the blindness, his reality is distorted when during the day everything else doesn’t matter; a type of tunnel vision for his first love. The mention of his eyes and chords translate to being able to see the love in his eyes so strong it speaks and sings of his heart. The two of them have a connection so strong that words verbally spoken are not necessary. Their connection is translated through words from his eyes. This stanza comes to a transitional close with burning blood around his heart, meaning that his first love has hurt him.
The final stanza begins with “Are flowers the winter’s choice? ” Like a great deal of poems, one of the seasons is pulled into the poem. However, not in a pleasant way; winter is cold just like his love being cold towards him; poetically the cold shoulder is love’s bed always snow. John Clare is not sure that his love’s listening to him, and feels that he will never find another love like her. The cold shoulder and her not listening to him, has caused pain. This pain feels, to him, like someone ripped his heart from his chest.
He ends the poem with a line meaning he can never love again. In conclusion, this poem is a perfect hopeless romantic poem that tells the story of meeting a first love, the connection and being with the person, and finally the end of the first love. The passion and meaning placed in this poem expresses clearly how John Clare feels about his first, last, and only love. I believe that the feelings he places in this poem helps readers relate more than other poems; probably making this one of the most relatable poems ever to a general audience.