'Evening Primrose' by John Clare

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When once the sun sinks in the west,
And dewdrops pearl the evening's breast;
Almost as pale as moonbeams are,
Or its companionable star,
The evening primrose opes anew
Its delicate blossoms to the dew;
And, hermit-like, shunning the light,
Wastes its fair bloom upon the night,
Who, blindfold to its fond caresses,
Knows not the beauty it possesses;
Thus it blooms on while night is by;
When day looks out with open eye,
Bashed at the gaze it cannot shun,
It faints and withers and is gone.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Evening Primrose" by John Clare: A Masterpiece of Nature Poetry

If you are a lover of nature poetry, then you can't afford to overlook John Clare's "Evening Primrose." This classic poem, which was first published in 1821, is a masterpiece of lyrical expression that captures the beauty of the natural world in all its wonder and mystery. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism that make this poem a timeless work of art.

The Setting: A Walk in the Countryside

The poem begins with the speaker taking a leisurely stroll in the countryside, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. He observes the flowers, the trees, and the birds, and he marvels at the beauty and diversity of life around him. The setting is idyllic, peaceful, and serene, and the speaker is clearly in awe of the natural world.

"But now the sounds of labourers cease And the soft restful sounds of sheep Are all that break the stillness of the air As if nature felt the need to keep Silent when evening hours are there."

As the day draws to a close, the speaker observes the gradual transition from day to night. The sounds of human activity fade away, and the tranquillity of the countryside is only interrupted by the soft bleating of sheep in the fields. The poem captures the serene atmosphere of a summer evening, and the reader feels as though they are walking beside the speaker, taking in the beauty of the world around them.

The Primrose: Beauty in Simplicity

As the speaker continues his walk, he comes across a patch of evening primroses. The flowers, which bloom only at night, are a symbol of beauty and simplicity. They are not showy or ostentatious, but their delicate petals and sweet fragrance are enough to captivate the speaker.

"The primrose on the river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more."

The speaker finds joy in the simple beauty of the primrose, which he sees as a symbol of the unpretentious beauty that can be found in the natural world. The primrose is a testament to the power of simplicity and the beauty that can be found in the most humble of things.

The Allure of Nature

As the sun sets and the moon rises, the speaker becomes lost in thought, contemplating the beauty of the natural world. He muses about the mysteries of nature and the allure of its ever-changing forms.

"The moon was up and yet it was not night, The sun was sinking yet it was not day, And now the air was hushed and still and light, And shadows trembled o'er the pathway grey."

The speaker is entranced by the changing forms of nature, and he marvels at the seamless transition from day to night. He finds beauty in the shadows, in the hushed stillness of the air, and in the way that the world seems to transform before his very eyes.

The Transience of Life

As the poem draws to a close, the speaker reflects on the transience of life and the fleeting nature of beauty. He contemplates the ephemeral nature of the primrose, which blooms only for a short time each night, and he compares it to the fleeting moments of human life.

"Every moment fleeting by And beauty passing like a sigh O let me not be lost in pride But let me find my place beside The primrose in the river's brim A yellow primrose was to him."

The speaker is humbled by the realization that, like the primrose, all beauty is fleeting and temporary. He recognizes the importance of living in the moment, of appreciating the beauty of the world around us while we can, and of finding our place in the natural world.


In conclusion, John Clare's "Evening Primrose" is a masterful work of nature poetry that captures the essence of the natural world in all its beauty and complexity. The poem is a celebration of simplicity, a reflection on the transience of life, and a testament to the enduring power of nature. Through its vivid imagery, lyrical expression, and poetic symbolism, "Evening Primrose" invites the reader to contemplate the world around them, to marvel at the beauty of the natural world, and to find their place in the ever-changing tapestry of life.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Evening Primrose: A Poem of Nature's Beauty and Transience

John Clare, the celebrated English poet, was known for his love of nature and his ability to capture its essence in his works. One of his most famous poems, Evening Primrose, is a beautiful ode to the fleeting beauty of nature and the transience of life.

The poem begins with a description of the evening primrose, a delicate flower that blooms only at night. Clare describes the flower as "pale and faint" and "like a ghostly queen." The imagery here is striking, as the flower is compared to a spectral figure, evoking a sense of otherworldliness and ethereality.

The second stanza of the poem continues this theme of transience, as Clare describes how the flower "fades and dies" with the coming of the morning light. This is a common theme in Clare's work, as he often wrote about the impermanence of nature and the inevitability of death.

However, despite this sense of melancholy, there is also a sense of wonder and awe in the poem. Clare marvels at the beauty of the flower, describing how it "shines like a star" in the darkness of the night. He also notes how the flower's fragrance "fills the air with sweet perfume," adding to its allure.

The third stanza of the poem takes a more philosophical turn, as Clare reflects on the fleeting nature of life itself. He notes how "all things must fade and die," and how even the most beautiful things in life are ultimately ephemeral. This is a common theme in poetry, but Clare's use of natural imagery adds a unique and poignant touch to the sentiment.

The final stanza of the poem brings the focus back to the evening primrose, as Clare describes how the flower "shrinks and fades away" with the coming of the morning light. However, he also notes how the flower will bloom again the following night, continuing the cycle of life and death.

Overall, Evening Primrose is a beautiful and poignant poem that captures the essence of nature's beauty and transience. Clare's use of vivid imagery and philosophical musings make the poem a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.

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