Adv Interpretive Reading: Project 2: The Poem Flitting


Assignment 2:



  • To understand the differences between poetry and prose.
  • To recognize how poets use imagery, rhythm, meter, cadence and rhyme to convey the meanings and emotions of their poetry.
  • To apply vocal techniques that will aid in the effectiveness of the reading.
  • TIME : 6 to 8 minutes

Notes to the Evaluator

In this project, the speaker’s task was to present a poem, using vocal techniques to capture the imagery and rhythm of a poem and to convey its meaning and emotions to the audience. It is suggested that you read the entire project and the appendix before the presentation.

Evaluation Guide

  1. How was the speaker able to express the thoughts and emotions of the poem?
  2. Did the speaker understand the poem? Was the speaker able to envision the pictures painted by the poet?
  3. Did the speaker make effective use of pauses, rhythm, and cadence?
  4. Did the speaker avoid a “sing-song” rhythm?
  5. What kind of eye contact did the speaker have with the audience? Was it appropriate for the type of presentation?
  6. Was the speaker well prepared and familiar with the material?


John Clare is known as Northamptonshire’s peasant poet. He is Britain foremost poet of countrylife and our second most insane. He remained a jack of all trades rural labourer, but In his day he earned more money for his publishers than Keats. Clare has until recently been classified as a very parochial poet of the romantic tradition, but recent critical rediscovery sees a deeper philosophical foundation to his work and suggests Clare is our first Green poet.

He was born and grew up Helpstone near Peterborough in 1793 and died in Northampton General Lunatic Asylum in 1864. The poem Flitting (1833) describes his disorientation when moving three miles to the village of Northborough in 1832. It was also the time of the enclosures act when private land owners were grabbing land, tearing down traditional features and meeting places, and erecting fences.

The poem taps into landscape and sense of place and identity. It is an introspective poem where he shares his thoughts, memories and feeling of the plants, birds, and places of his village, including the mythical naiad water nymphs.

The Flitting – Poem by John Clare

I’ve left my own old home of homes,
Green fields and every pleasant place;
The summer like a stranger comes,
I pause and hardly know her face.
I miss the hazel’s happy green,
The blue bell’s quiet hanging blooms,
Where envy’s sneer was never seen,
Where staring malice never comes.

I miss the heath, its yellow furze,
Molehills and rabbit tracks that lead
Through beesom, ling, and teazel burrs
That spread a wilderness indeed;
The woodland oaks and all below
That their white powdered branches shield,
The mossy paths: the very crow
Croaks music in my native field.

I sit me in my corner chair
That seems to feel itself from home,
And hear bird music here and there
From hawthorn hedge and orchard come;
I hear, but all is strange and new:
I sat on my old bench in June,
The sailing puddock’s shrill ‘peelew’
On Royce Wood seemed a sweeter tune.

Alone and in a stranger scene,
Far, far from spots my heart esteems,
The closen with their ancient green,
Heaths, woods, and pastures, sunny streams.
The hawthorns here were hung with may,
But still they seem in deader green,
The sun een seems to lose its way
Nor knows the quarter it is in.

I dwell in trifles like a child,
I feel as ill becomes a man,
And still my thoughts like weedlings wild
Grow up to blossom where they can.
They turn to places known so long
I feel that joy was dwelling there,
So home-fed pleasure fills the song
That has no present joys to hear.

There have I sat by many a tree
And leaned oer many a rural stile,
And conned my thoughts as joys to me,
Nought heeding who might frown or smile.
Twas nature’s beauty that inspired
My heart with rapture not its own,
And she’s a fame that never tires;
How could I feel myself alone?

No, pasture molehills used to lie
And talk to me of sunny days,
And then the glad sheep resting bye
All still in ruminating praise
Of summer and the pleasant place
And every weed and blossom too
Was looking upward in my face
With friendship’s welcome ‘how do ye do?’

All tenants of an ancient place
And heirs of noble heritage,
Coeval they with Adam’s race
And blest with more substantial age.
For when the world first saw the sun
These little flowers beheld him too,
And when his love for earth begun
They were the first his smiles to woo.

I love the verse that mild and bland
Breathes of green fields and open sky,
I love the muse that in her hand
Bears flowers of native poesy;
Who walks nor skips the pasture brook
In scorn, but by the drinking horse
Leans oer its little brig to look
How far the sallows lean across,

And feels a rapture in her breast
Upon their root-fringed grains to mark
A hermit morehen’s sedgy nest
Just like a naiad’s summer bark.
She counts the eggs she cannot reach
Admires the spot and loves it well,
And yearns, so nature’s lessons teach,
Amid such neighbourhoods to dwell.

I love the muse who sits her down
Upon the molehill’s little lap,
Who feels no fear to stain her gown
And pauses by the hedgerow gap;
Not with that affectation, praise
Of song, to sing and never see
A field flower grown in all her days
Or een a forest’s aged tree.

Een here my simple feelings nurse
A love for every simple weed,
And een this little shepherd’s purse
Grieves me to cut it up; indeed
I feel at times a love and joy
For every weed and every thing,
A feeling kindred from a boy,
A feeling brought with every Spring.

And why? this shepherd’s purse that grows
In this strange spot, in days gone bye
Grew in the little garden rows
Of my old home now left; and
I Feel what I never felt before,
This weed an ancient neighbour here,
And though I own the spot no more
Its every trifle makes it dear.

The ivy at the parlour end,
The woodbine at the garden gate,
Are all and each affection’s friend
That render parting desolate.
But times will change and friends must part
And nature still can make amends;
Their memory lingers round the heart
Like life whose essence is its friends.

Time looks on pomp with vengeful mood
Or killing apathy’s disdain;
So where old marble cities stood
Poor persecuted weeds remain.
She feels a love for little things
That very few can feel beside,
And still the grass eternal springs
Where castles stood and grandeur died.

Feedback and Reflections

I really enjoyed this poem and felt I was really getting into the Poet and the period of his work. It took a lot of work to be able to interpret the poem well and capture the lineation correctly to avoid the choppiness of reading line fragments,


  • Great introduction
  • Very well chosen piece for the locality
  • Great delivery: clear words, rhythm, vocal variety, pauses, pitch, intonation, emphasis, tone
  • Difficult text -appreciated


  • The two main ideas that would come with knowing my lines and material word perfectly would be looking up and projecting further to the back of the room and being able to use eye contact, gestures and body language to add to the presentation.
  • A little breathless (gasping) at times
  • A little slower maybe
  • Some of the language a little challenging


John Clare (13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864) was an English poet, the son of a farm labourer, who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption.[1] His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century, and he is now often considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets.[2] His biographer Jonathan Bate states that Clare was “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self”.[3]


Clare was born in Helpston, six miles to the north of the city of Peterborough. In his lifetime, the village was in the Soke of Peterborough in Northamptonshire and his memorial calls him “The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet”. Helpston now lies in the Peterborough unitary authority of Cambridgeshire.


He became an agricultural labourer while still a child; however, he attended school in Glinton church until he was 12. In his early adult years, Clare became a potboy in the Blue Bell public house and fell in love with Mary Joyce; but her father, a prosperous farmer, forbade her to meet him. Subsequently he was a gardener at Burghley House. He enlisted in the militia, tried camp life with Gypsies, and worked in Pickworth as a lime burner in 1817. In the following year he was obliged to accept parish relief.[4] Malnutrition stemming from childhood may be the main culprit behind his 5-foot stature and may have contributed to his poor physical health in later life.



Among English poets, John Clare has two distinctions: He was the poorest, and he was (with the possible exception of Christopher Smart) the craziest. To read him is to face the English class system from its most tragic facet. Clare, who was born in 1793 and died in 1864, scraped together a living as a bird-scarer, lime-burner, fiddler, gardener, haymaker, and “bum-tool” (to use his militia unit’s slang for a jack-of-all-trades). He did real work for a living, not just until he was published, but for the whole of his working life. He wrote compulsively while on walks through local fields. The London grandees and literary curiosity-seekers who eventually beat a path to his cottage were an economic as well as a social imposition—they often cost him a day’s labor.


At one point during his career, his publishers, Taylor and Hessey, earned more from Clare’s books than they did from Keats’. But since Clare’s death, critics have tended to view Clare as a combination of two minor poets: He squeaks into anthologies on the strength of a few minutely observed early pastoral poems, full of Northamptonshire dialect and weird bird names and sounds (“the sailing puddock’s shrill peelew”); and of the vatic meditations he wrote while institutionalized, particularly the lines beginning “I Am.”

Curated from John Clare, peasant, lunatic, poet.


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