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Late night John Clare

Thursday 6/20/24

I've been reading John Clare's prose here in these late hours. His writing is one of the things I like best of all things. I don't even want for people in some ways anymore. I want to do my work knowing it is free to do all that it can in the world and be where I want to be and spend the rest of my time in nature and with art.

Hardly anyone knows that Clare wrote any prose. Nor is that prose easy to find. Few people know Clare's poetry or have any idea who he is. But John Clare, Thoreau's journals, the Anthology of American Folk Music, a Grateful Dead acoustic set from 1970--these are things that strike so deep within me.

John Clare knew everything about the place in which he lived. You see in his writing that it was an actual part of him. It wasn't separate. Every field and stile and hedgerow and bird's nest and barn and hayrick and path and heath. Inseparable from his true self. And that made for some of his naturalness as a writer.

You can't be taught anything like that. Why would anyone think you could be? To think that you could be is to have nary a clue how writing that is real functions. I don't mean real because it comes from one's life or surroundings. But it is life.

I have read Clare since college. He wasn't assigned to me in college. Very little of what I read was assigned to me. The people doing the assigning didn't know. What did they know? Really not much of anything.

I'd find all of these works that had so much more to give. That's what matters to me--works that have the most to give. Sometimes that means being open and looking, and you have to look for yourself and be your own person. Clare has a work of prose about that idea. It's sort of like how he'd go off into the forest or the countryside, being present and open to what he might find. Not having made up his mind ahead of time of what that would be or likely be.

Clare was wise. Certain things are especially rare in any writing. Charm, for instance. True humor. Wisdom. These are things that cannot be faked. It's not like they're at the artist's disposal in the one work but not in this other one. That is, they don't come and go, they're not here and not there. They are also inseparable in the sense that there's not a crack of space between them and the artist they're a part of.


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