This lovely poem, called First Love, seems to exemplify the sadness & melancholy of John Clare’s poetry for me. Clare (picture from here) was parted from his first love, Mary, but often harked back to this period of his life when he was confined in an asylum.
I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet.
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked ‘what could I ail?’
My life and all seemed turned to clay.
And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my sight away.
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start;
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.
Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice
And love’s appeal to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before:
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.