John Clare, 1793-1864 or thereabouts wrote this poem. He was a crofter, about as far down the social scale as a guy could get without falling through the bottom. He spent a long time in asylums and turned out a substantial body of very good poetry, somehow, in the process. This is one of his most famous pieces, and holds together far better than I remember it as having done. I toss it in because I suspect it is the great Grand-daddy of all the I AM poems, and simply because it's so darn good. I hope it makes everybody feel the invitation to compassion that I think it means to offer, as well as the complex freighting of other messages it carries as well. I like in particular the unpitying nature of "I am the self-consumer of my woe." That's a place I'm all to familiar with. I think it's a small jewel.
I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.