Music in the noise: The acoustic ecology of John Clare | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2057-0341
  • E-ISSN: 2057-035X



For the rural poet John Clare (1793-1864), every object has its own voice. Though little commented upon, Clare’s close attention to the sounds of his native Helpston played an important role both as poetic subject and in the formation of his own poetic language. The way these sounds form a part of a larger community for Clare is particularly significant given our contemporary ecological moment in which all sorts of sounds have become and are becoming extinct. He demonstrates how sound is both shaped by space and shapes the space in which it reverberates. Poetry for Clare is therefore a way of both shaping words out of his aural environment and creating spaces for others to listen in. In his mid-period poetry, he develops a unique approach to poetic language through modelling the sounds of the world around him. ‘The Fallen Elm’ (1832) will be examined as emblematic of these concerns, demonstrating an acoustic ecology that offers insight into both the developments of his time and our own.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): acoustic ecology; John Clare; place; sound shape; ‘The Fallen Elm’
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