JOHN CLARE BY HIMSELF
But tell em how thou left him moping Thro oblivions darkness grouping Still in its dark corner ryhmeing & as usual ballad chyming Wi' few ha' pence left to speed wi' Poor & rag' d as beggars need be - Money would be useful stuff To the wise a hints enough Then might we face every weather Gogging hand in hand together Tow'rds our Journeys end & aim That fine place ycleped fame ... 1s
Is there a reference here to Chaucer's House of Fame? The poem is typical of Clare: though he apologizes for his rough upbringing and lack of education, he has confidence in his own genius and in the fame it will eventually bring him. Whether his fame is in the local pub or on the national scene, he always has his eyes on greater things. In poems such as 'Dawning of Genius', 'Some Account of my Kin, my Tallents and Myself', 'In shades obscure & gloomy warmd to sing'16 and many more, Clare returns to the theme of the rise from obscurity to fame. Much of his autobiographical writing in prose is occupied with the same matters.
By January 1821, Clare was trying his hand at prose. 'Charicteristic Descriptive Pastorals in prose on rural life & manners', in the hope of eventually publishing a volume entitled 'Pastorals in Prose' .17 He was also assembling facts for Taylor to go into the introduction to The Village Minstrel:
I will fill your last ruled Quarto with as much of my little life as I can & get it done doubtless to bring up with me in summer as I then intend to storm the hospitality of Fleet St - 18