Poem introduction

Clare’s poetry contains a trove of dialect words and in his work we see, again and again, his willingness to stick with what’s local, even in terms of language. In this poem, 'Mouse’s Nest', we find this word ‘progged’ which means to poke at something. This poem is very local also in that it’s miniaturist almost in the way that it describes a kind of drama taking place under foot. This weird image of the newborn mice at their mother’s teats seems to both scale down and suggest greater detail but also, snags at us, in the way they cling on for dear life and sustenance, which makes the poem huge at the same time, especially if we think of Clare as the mouse, ‘poor poet’, as Robert Graves called him. Clare who was disturbed and displaced from his own habitations and family and who saw the landscape of his childhood dismantled by enclosure.

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