I Hid My Love


“I Hid My Love” by John Clare is an emotive poem that delves into the pain and longing associated with concealing one’s deepest affections. The poet uses vivid imagery to depict the lengths he goes to in order to hide his love, likening it to concealing a light or burying a treasure. Throughout the poem, the anguish of suppressed emotions and the yearning for release are palpable.

Critical Analysis

John Clare’s “I Hid My Love” masterfully captures the torment of suppressed emotions. The poem’s narrative is a poignant exploration of the internal struggle between expressing one’s true feelings and the societal or personal constraints that force one to hide them. Clare’s use of nature as a metaphor for his concealed emotions underscores the natural, undeniable force of love. The poem resonates with the universal human experience of masking one’s true feelings, making it both intimate and relatable.


  1. Concealed Emotions: The central theme of the poem is the act of hiding one’s profound love and the associated pain.
  2. Nature as a Mirror: Clare frequently uses nature as a reflection of human emotions. In this poem, the light, the buried treasure, and the elements serve as metaphors for concealed love.
  3. Conflict and Turmoil: The poem highlights the internal conflict between the desire to express love and the need to hide it.
  4. Universal Human Experience: Beyond personal emotions, the poem touches on the broader theme of the universal human tendency to hide vulnerabilities.

Literary Devices

  1. Metaphor: Clare employs metaphors like “I hid my love when young,” comparing concealed love to a hidden treasure or a masked light.
  2. Alliteration: Phrases such as “hid it high” and “day’s delight” add a rhythmic quality to the poem.
  3. Imagery: Vivid imagery, like “hid my love in field and town,” paints a clear picture of the lengths the poet goes to in order to conceal his feelings.
  4. Personification: Clare personifies love as something that can be hidden, buried, or masked, giving it tangible qualities.


The poem follows a consistent rhyme scheme, adding a melodic quality to Clare’s narrative. The rhyme scheme can be described as “ABAB,” with each stanza adhering to this pattern, creating a harmonious flow throughout the poem.

Stanza-by-Stanza Analysis

  1. First Stanza:
    • Clare begins by revealing his act of hiding his love when he was young. He uses the metaphor of a light to represent his love, suggesting its illuminating and undeniable nature.
  2. Second Stanza:
    • The poet continues the metaphor, describing how he tried to mask the light of his love. The imagery of the “day’s delight” and “midnight’s dream” suggests the all-encompassing nature of his feelings.
  3. Third Stanza:
    • Clare introduces another metaphor, likening his hidden love to a treasure buried in the ground. This imagery emphasizes the preciousness of his feelings.
  4. Fourth Stanza:
    • The poet describes the omnipresence of his concealed love, suggesting that despite his efforts, it’s evident everywhere, from fields to towns.
  5. Fifth Stanza:
    • Clare concludes by reiterating the enduring and all-encompassing nature of his love, emphasizing that it remains undiminished despite being hidden.

In “I Hid My Love,” John Clare offers a deeply evocative exploration of concealed emotions and the human desire to protect one’s innermost feelings. Through vivid imagery, thematic depth, and masterful use of literary devices, Clare paints a poignant picture of love in all its complexity.