Featured Poem: First Love by John Clare

We’re in the mood for love here at The Reader, thanks to the publication of our new anthology A Little, Aloud with Love – the latest book in the A Little, Aloud series celebrating that special emotion and perhaps the most fêted subject in the history of English literature. Featuring a wealth of great writers from Shakespeare to Shelley, getting right up-to-date with authors including Haruki Murakami, Wendy Cope and Margaret Atwood, A Little, Aloud with Love celebrates love in all its forms and not only the romantic kind – though of course, there are plenty of poems and stories inside the book to woo or otherwise delight the object of your affection.

To celebrate the arrival of A Little, Aloud with Love – and that little-known lovers’ holiday called Valentine’s Day that is approaching at the end of the week – this week’s Featured Poem is a choice taken from the book itself by John Clare. Speaking about the first flushes of love and the effects it can bring, both physical and emotional, it’s bound to strike a chord with anyone who has experienced the euphoria and confusion of falling in love.

If this ode whets your appetite for more, A Little, Aloud with Love is now available to buy from our website and in stores.

First Love

I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?

My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love’s appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.

John Clare


 

For those of you in Liverpool, we’re launching A Little, Aloud with Love this week at a special event at Waterstones Liverpool One on Thursday 11th February from 6.30pm. Featuring live readings from the book and music designed to pluck at your heart strings, the evening will be hosted BBC Radio Merseyside’s Roger Phillips and also features Gogglebox stars and Liverpool lovebirds June and Leon.

Tickets for the A Little, Aloud with Love launch cost £3 and can be bought on the door or booked in advance by calling Waterstones Liverpool One on 0151 709 9820.

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