Clare's mutterings, murmurings, and ramblings: the sounds of health

Journal article


Lafford, Erin 2014. Clare's mutterings, murmurings, and ramblings: the sounds of health. The John Clare Society Journal.
AuthorsLafford, Erin
Abstract

Clare is valued as a poet of direct communication. His poems are filled with Northamptonshire dialect that fosters an instantaneous connection to his local environment, creating an immediate sense of place though sound. Likewise, Clare’s representations of natural sounds, such as the ‘whewing’ of the pewit, the ‘swop’ of the jay bird as it flies, and the ‘chickering crickets’, have a mimetic quality that creates a direct experience of what he hears.1 Seamus Heaney grouped Clare with what he called ‘monoglot geniuses’, meaning that he had a gift for conveying through poetry a ‘univocal homeplace’ that his readers could understand without necessarily belonging to that place themselves.2 However, this idea of Clare as a poet of such direct coherency is complicated by his madness or, specifically, by his repeated usage of a vocalisation which carries connotations of madness. This essay will consider the ways that Clare represents health and madness at the level of sound, by bringing them into relationship with a mode of speaking that recurs throughout his poetry and prose: his use of muttering. It will suggest that Clare’s poetic investment in muttering and the sub-vocal register as both a personalised, therapeutic mode of self-address, and a way to foster a deep poetic relationship with his natural surroundings, comes to complicate his formal representation of health as a clear ‘strong voice’.

KeywordsJohn Clare; Romantic poetry; Medical humanities; Voice; Sound; Subvocal
Year2014
JournalThe John Clare Society Journal
PublisherThe John Clare Society
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/623522
hdl:10545/623522
Publication datesJul 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Feb 2019, 13:50
ContributorsUniversity of Oxford
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File Access Level
Open
File
File Access Level
Open
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/9448w/clare-s-mutterings-murmurings-and-ramblings-the-sounds-of-health

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