I Am!

Popular Poetry Course Poetry | Literature | Speaking | Vocabulary | Pronunciation | IPA Symbols

Poetry

Because of their structure, poems are a great way of learning about the rhythm of the English language. In these Activities you will be able to listen to poetry, read it, and then improve your knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols, thus improving your pronunciation. The Activities also include information about the poets and some background to the writing of the poem. Finally, you will have the chance to test how much you have learned about the vocabulary and other aspects of the poems through some interactive exercises.

Literature

Some students like to sit back and listen to some interesting English. It doesn't get much more interesting than some of the old classics from English literature. These Activities have been created to help you get the best from the vocabulary found in some of the old classics. As you listen and read your way through these Activities, you will also broaden your understanding of English culture.

Speaking

It's not easy to teaching speaking skills remotely through a website, however good the site is. To really practice your speaking skills, you need someone to speak to who can correct your mistakes as you go. The Activities here will go some way to helping you to improve your speaking skills by helping you to mirror the speech you hear in the lesson. In this way, you can notice how your speech differs from that in the Activities and, by recording your own speech, you can adjust your pronunciation to more accurately match that in the Activities.

Vocabulary

Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.

Pronunciation

No matter how good your English grammar and vocabulary may be, if your pronunciation is so bad that nobody can understand a word you say, then your English won't be much good as a means of communication. You might be good at grammar, have a broad vocabulary, and be able to explain all the aspects and tenses of English, but it's not much good if you can't be understood when you speak. I have designed these Activities to help you to improve your pronunciation, as well as other areas of your English.

IPA Symbols

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation that was devised in the 19th century as a standardised way of representing the sounds of speech in written form. The British English IPA chart consists of 44 symbols representing the pure vowels (monophthongs), the gliding vowels (diphthongs), and the consonant sounds of spoken British English. The Britlish Library contains a wealth of Activities to help you to learn, remember, and use the British English IPA symbols efficiently whether you are a student or a teacher.

Newest Comments All Categories Top Random Courses IPA Challenges Word Games

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.  

Popular Poetry Course

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.

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.

Popular Poetry

There are many poems that are recognised, if not known, by many people, and which have become cultural icons. Far from being dead or irrelevant, poetry still maintains the capacity to strike deep at the heart of what it means to be English. These poems are as English as cathedrals and castles, Maypoles and Morris dancers and should be read and enjoyed by all English speakers and by those who aspire to understand more of what it means to be English.

Responsive image

The Soldier

Perhaps one of the most famous World War I poems, The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke is known at least in part by most British people as it is often used on military memorials. The poem is one of a series of 5 sonnets that Brooke wrote on themes from the war published as 1914. This evocative and poignant poem romanticises the war rather than focussing on the grim realities. At the time Brooke wrote the poem, in the early years of the war, bodies of the dead were buried near where they fell and there are vast graveyards of British soldiers in foreign fields. Using patriotic language, the poem represents the idealism of the early days of the war which would be replaced by the horror of mechanised warfare as the war dragged on. Brooke would himself lie buried in a corner of a foreign field in 1915.

Categories: Poetry | IPA Symbols | Pronunciation | Vocabulary | Literature | Listenings


Responsive image

The Tyger

Written sometime between 1790 and 1792, Blake's The Tyger is one of the most famous of English poems much loved by children and adults alike. The poem asks questions about what sort of creator would come up with something as fearful as a tiger. This lesson will teach you the poem, some background details about the poet, the vocabulary in the poem, and the IPA symbols used to represent the pronunciation of the poem. There is much debate today about the pronunciation of the words eye and symmetry and whether in Blake's time they rhymed or not.

Categories: Poetry | IPA Symbols | Pronunciation | Vocabulary | Literature | Listenings


Responsive image

The Vagabond

The Vagabond is one of the poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's Songs of Travel and Other Verses published in 1896. In this lesson you will learn some of the vocabulary in the poem, as well as improving your pronunciation skills and your knowledge of the British English IPA chart and symbols. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish travel writer, poet, essayist, and novelist. He is best known for Treasure Island, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped. He is the 26th most translated author in the world.

Categories: Poetry | Vocabulary | Pronunciation | IPA Symbols | Literature | Listenings


If you are on a mobile device, or want to open the lesson in a new window, click the button below. The lesson will open in a popup window.

Popup Lesson



Use your study record to set lessons as completed, rate them with a 1-5 star rating, record vocabulary from the lesson for future reference, and take notes about the lesson for future reference.

Not Complete!

You have not completed this lesson yet. To complete it, click the Complete Lesson button.

Complete Lesson Completed Lessons


Lesson Rating

You have not rated this lesson.

Rate This All Ratings


Lesson Vocabulary

You have not created any vocabulary items for this lesson yet.

Add New Vocabulary All Vocabulary


Lesson Notes

You have not created any notes for this lesson yet.

Create Notes All Notes

Be the first to leave a comment about I Am!.

You will need a free Britlisher account to leave a comment.

Click for Free Account


Learn English with the most innovative and engaging English lessons available anywhere on the Internet and all completely free of charge! To personalise your experience in the Britlish Library and to keep track of the lessons you have studied and the vocabulary you have recorded, or the notes you have made about each class, sign up for a free account today.