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I Am!

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IPA Symbols

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an essential tool for any student or teacher of the English language. Developed in the 19th century, the IPA provides a standardized way to represent the sounds of speech in written form. The British English IPA chart includes 44 symbols that represent the monophthongs, diphthongs, and consonant sounds of spoken British English. The Britlish Library offers a wide range of activities to help you master the British English IPA symbols, improve your pronunciation, and take your English language skills to the next level. Whether you're a student or a teacher, our activities are designed to help you learn, remember, and effectively use the IPA in your English language studies.

In this lesson we will look at the poem, its background and that of its writer, John Clare, as well as some vocabulary from the poem including, abide, esteem, forsake, frenzied, hath, host, oblivious, scorn, shipwreck, stifled, throes, trod, vapours, vaulted, wept, and woe. You can read and listen to this poem, as well as get a deeper insight into it. There are plenty of exercises to help you with the IPA symbols and with your comprehension.  

About John Clare (1793-1864) John Clare was an English poet who spent the last 27 years of his life in an insane asylum. He had first been voluntarily committed in 1837 after suffering from anxiety, hallucinations, and depression, but escaped in 1841 and walked the 130 kms to his family home. As he was still very delusional, his wife called the doctors, and he was committed to the asylum a second time in 1842. It was around this time that this poem was written. Clare is considered to be one of the major poets of the 19th century. Born into a farm-labourer's family, he has been described as, "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self." Childhood malnutrition may have contributed to his small stature and generally poor physical health. Financial pressures dogged him and his family, and he turned to poetry as a way of trying to prevent his family being evicted from their cottage. His first book of poetry was well received in 1820 and "There was no limit to the applause bestowed upon Clare, unanimous in their admiration of a poetical genius coming before them in the humble garb of a farm labourer." Clare married Martha Turner, a milkmaid, in 1820 and was afterwards torn between his need to write poetry and the need to earn money to feed his family. His health began to suffer as his fortunes declined and his book of poems, The Shepherd's Calendar, 1827, was not successful. By the time his sixth child arrived in 1830 he began to suffer from depression. By the time of his last published work, Rural Muse, 1835, Clare's mental health had got progressively worse, and he turned to drink. He became an increasing burden for his family and voluntarily entered a private asylum in 1837, his mind "full of many strange delusions". He even began to claim that he was Lord Byron. Apart from a brief period at home in 1841, Clare spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum. Nevertheless, he continued to write poetry until his death in 1864, aged 71.

Listen to this audio to help you with the questions.

Read this text to help you with the questions.

I Am!
by John Clare

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 shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes

And yet I am, and live - like vapours tossed


Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

Into the living sea of waking dreams,

Where there is neither sense of life or joys,

But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;

Even the dearest that I loved the best

Are strange - nay, rather, stranger than the rest.


I long for scenes where man hath never trod

A place where woman never smiled 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.

/ aɪ æm /

/ baɪ dʒɒn kleə /

/ aɪ əm jet wɒt aɪ əm nɒn keəz ɔː ˈnəʊz /

/ maɪ frendz fə.ˈseɪk miː laɪk ə ˈme.mə.ri lɒst /

/ aɪ əm ðə self kən.ˈsjuː.mər əv maɪ wəʊz /

/ ðeɪ raɪz ənd ˈvæ.nɪʃ ɪn ə.ˈblɪ.vɪəs həʊst /

/ laɪk ˈʃæ.dəʊz ɪn lʌvz ˈfren.zɪd ˈstaɪ.fəld θrəʊz /

/ ənd jet aɪ æm / ənd lɪv laɪk ˈveɪ.pəz tɒst /


/ ˈɪn.tə ðə ˈnʌ.θɪŋ.nəs əv skɔːn ənd nɔɪz /

/ ˈɪn.tə ðə ˈlɪv.ɪŋ siː əv ˈweɪ.kɪŋ driːmz /

/ weə ðə ɪz ˈniː.ðə sens əv laɪf ɔː dʒɔɪz /

/ bət ðə vɑːst ˈʃɪ.prek əv maɪ laɪfs ɪ.ˈstiːmz /

/ ˈiːv.n̩ ðə ˈdɪə.rɪst ðət aɪ lʌv ðə best /

/ ə streɪndʒ neɪ / ˈrɑː.ðə / ˈstreɪn.dʒə ðən ðə rest /


/ aɪ lɒŋ fə siːnz weə mæn hæθ ˈne.və trɒd /

/ ə pleɪs weə ˈwʊ.mən ˈne.və smaɪld ɔː wept /

/ ðə tu ə.ˈbaɪd wɪð maɪ kriː.ˈeɪt.ə / ɡɒd /

/ ənd sliːp əz aɪ ɪn ˈtʃaɪld.hʊd ˈswiː slept /

/ ʌn.ˈtrʌb.l̩.ɪŋ ənd ʌn.ˈtrʌb.l̩d weər aɪ laɪ /

/ ðə ɡrɑːs bɪ.ˈləʊ ə.ˈbʌv ðə ˈvɔːl.tɪd skaɪ / 

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