William Wordsworth, through his many great poetic works, has come to be known, amongst many other things, as the forerunner of 'nature poetry'. He feels an intimate connection with the natural world, and is not merely an observer of it, but an active participant in it, as much of his poetry focuses on the interconnectedness of man and nature, and the intricate relationship they share. Wordsworth's sense of place primarily extends to large-scale natural settings; 'macrocosms' such as landscapes, and also often pays much attention to the elements impacting on them. However, the detailed description of natural settings is seldom Wordsworth's only purpose. He is largely concerned with nature's impact on the human condition and psyche, and traces a variety of human responses to the natural world.
Whereas Wordsworth strolled through the scenery, continuously thinking of ways in which he could describe and relate the effect that the aesthetic had on him, John Clare, on the other hand, simply sat and observed nature, creating his poetry purely out of what he perceived.
"Clare is content with nature as it is" (Keith, 1980), and "significantly ignores all the poems dramatizing a human confrontation with the natural world", such as the kind that Wordsworth prides himself upon. Clare describes the 'microcosm' as he sees it, focusing on the minute details in nature that Wordsworth either overlooks or excludes.
If both men had such a profound love for nature, why is it then that their respective sense of place is so vastly different? Clare grew up as a peasant in Northhamptonshire, humbly working and living on the same land that his poetry is based on. Wordsworth on the other hand was of a far higher social class, and although he too had a profound love for nature, could never experience its delicacies...