I am! (John Clare)

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.


Every single person has a destiny, please forgive me for my extreme clichés, but I do believe this. And yesterday, as I turned 49, I found mine. My destiny is not like his or hers, to change the world for the better. My destiny is not to be, rather than to be.  It is not a question anymore. I solved Shakespeare’s riddle and became the king of Denmark.

Dear stranger,

Oh damned are you, unlucky reader, finder and now rightful owner of my sorrows and pain. You shall be the first and last person to know me, to know who I am. Because I am, aren’t I? I exist, don’t I? I have a shadow claiming every second of every move. Am I not able to see my reflection? May this last note of mine be the everlasting proof of my existence.

You, my dearest, surely don’t know me, yet. For no one knows anything about me, for I am a wandering soul, lost on a one-way road. I am faceless in-between the millions of faces baring even more eyes that wouldn’t find me worthy enough for a second look, if I had the pleasure of receiving the first, in the first place.

They simply don’t care; really, they don’t even try to make it look like they do. This is how unattractive I am to the world, nothing but a useless pile of flesh and bones slowly in decay.

My friends, to whom I gave this rank because they weren’t completely appalled, the first time we met, haven’t forgotten about me. For you have to know someone before you can forget him. My mother, who carried me for nine months, looked at me and said ‘I wish it were a girl’. Even the one person, who was biologically forced to love me, didn’t.

With no one to speak to, I am doomed to be the self-consumer of my woes, with the lights out, with a glass of whatever and a bottle of even more whatever. I am lonely, I guess. I should be, right? Don’t you feel sorry for me? Do you wish you could have been my friend? Please don’t. Because I am, I am alive today as I write this letter to you, stranger. I am alive like the weeds in your backyard, which grow taller and more ugly every day, yet still, are as useless as the day before. I am alive like the insect you smacked away from the fruit in your kitchen. I do no harm, yet am disgusting and you don’t want me around because I’ll make you feel uncomfortable.

I am alive, I feel my heart beating through my chest right now, it sings in tune with an 808 beat. But do I want to be alive; do I need to be alive? Who else other than me should care and yet, I myself don’t want to live… Should I? Oh why am I even asking? Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means looking for help or a reason not to end it. I will, because I want to. I have grown surer every word of this letter.

I long for long virgin beaches, which my feet would be the first to touch. I long for long starry nights nobody saw but my teary eyes and blind heart. I long for a long past history of myself. I, me, mine. Make it murder. Because I know that with or without me, you, beloved friend or fiend, will always be mine, after today. Hold me with you, woven into your scar tissue and think about me. Look up to the moon; I will be sitting there, looking at you from my own pale kingdom. Where I belong. I am the man on the moon and I will finally be recognized in my invisibility. My days will turn into the everlasting night but it won’t turn dark for a second. As a new-born I will fall asleep as the moon goes in retrograde, flowing through the star crusted skies, kissing the sun, losing gravity and finally howling back at the earth.

by Aska Hayakawa


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