From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
I Am

I Am

  

by John Clare

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

When we say "I Am," we're pretty much saying we're alive or we exist. That's the point of this title, although it is a little weird (we'll get to that in a sec). The speaker's friends no longer care about him; it's almost like he's dead. He feels like a ghostly vapor, and is surrounded by the shipwreck of everything he once loved. But—dude isn't dead! He's still very much alive, and still has feelings. That's the point of saying "I Am." The speaker doesn't want people to abandon him or treat him like he's dead yet because he's not.

The other thing about the title is that we feel there should be something after the "am." If somebody says "I am," our next question is usually "Okay, you are what, bro?" Well, the speaker is a lot of things. He is the "self-consumer" of his "woes" (3), he is sad, he is "like a memory lost" (2), he's like "vapours" (6). The point is the speaker is a lot of things, so the title is sort of like a placeholder. Clare couldn't have called it "I am x, I am y, I am z," after all. By just naming it "I Am," he invites us to question his identity further and learn more about him. He piques our curiosity.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement