London, South Kensington
16 November 2004
CLARE, John (1793-1864). Autograph manuscript poem signed, 'Infants' Graves are steps of Angels' [published as Graves of Infants], two nine-line stanzas on one page, 4to, remnants of guards.
The manuscript has the erratic spelling and punctuation characteristic of Clare (the first words are punctuated 'Infants Grave's', and he introduces the variant spelling 'Innoscence'); but there are also a number of verbal variants from the accepted text, of which the most notable are a re-casting of l.9, in l.13, ''Twas told on Flowers', for 'And tolled on flowers', and 'it left one Sigh' for 'it left no sigh' in l.14.
Graves of Infants, written in May 1844, was one of the finest of the poems Clare produced during his period as a patient in the Northampton Asylum. He is known to have given manuscript copies of poems to a number of visitors.
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