Helen Halliwell L&S Arts & Humanities
John Clare and the Poetics of Attention
This project analyzes the origins, uses, and effects of attention in the work of 19th-century poet John Clare in order to illuminate the nature of the relationship between poet and place. I will analyze his poetry for habits of attention not only in his acts of observation, but in the poetic techniques he uses to describe what he sees, and thus translate his heightened sense of attention. By approaching his body of work through the lens of the poetics of attention and his focus on his immediate surroundings, I aim to explore the complex relationship between the poet‚Äôs groundedness and the simultaneous sense of unsettledness or imprisonment that comes as a result of the intensely familiar connection to it. I seek to tease out how Clare‚Äôs habit of noticing and, importantly, his ability to continue to notice the minute and generally unnoticeable in nature contributes to an almost instinctual, reactionary love that then instills a troubled reaction to impermanence in nature.