Lesson Plan: ‘First Love’ John Clare



‘First Love’-John Clare Poem 5/14

Learning Objectives Students will be introduced into defining a rhyme scheme through ‘ABAB’patterning. They will also explore the theme of first love, drawing comparisons between romantic love and mature love and how love develops across time.

Starter Activity

Read all of the poems studied so far with Sonnet 43 read by another volunteer. 

Discussion about what is ‘a crush’ and ‘first love’ and the signs/symptoms of ‘being in love’. Discuss how the early feelings of love may change with the passing of time.

Reading of First Love-each student reads a couplet.




Highlighters and Pencils


Main Teaching And Learning Activities


Explain how to identify a rhyme scheme. Students work in pairs to determine the letter of each line.

Line by-line analysis of the poem, highlighting the effects of love on the speaker.

Identify the change in tone in the last stanza. Discuss what the final line means, and the impact it has on the poem as a whole.

Discuss the purpose of writing the poem (hint look at stanza two)

Key Strategies (IGCSE) 

AO2: Understand the meanings of literary texts and their contexts, and explore texts beyond surface

meanings to show deeper awareness of ideas and attitudes;

AO3: Recognise and appreciate ways in which writers use language, structure, and form to create and shape meanings and effects;

AO4: Communicate a sensitive and informed personal response to literary texts.


Key Questions


What is the difference between a crush and love? Do you think that they are the same?






Compare Sonnet 43 and First Love-is there a difference in the kind of love being described?


Journal Entry 

Clare expresses the power of his emotions partly by analysing his physical symptoms. Explore the way he does this and particularly, examine his loss of sight.


4 thoughts on “Lesson Plan: ‘First Love’ John Clare

  1. This poem is about how lovestruck and dumbstruck he is
    when he sees this women. Clare conveys this message by
    his choice of words, such as struck, sudden and rushed; this
    gives us a sense that this scene happened very quickly and
    unexpectedly. He also conveys this message by his choice of phrases.
    For example, “My face turn pale a deadly pale” suggests he was so shocked
    and confused that he thought he was so in love in an immensely short time.
    He conveys the message of not actually being in deep love but rather love at first
    sight by using a rhyming pattern. The pattern is A, B, A, B –
    C, D, C, D – E, D, E, D – F, G, F, G – H, I, H, I – E, J, E, J.
    This rhyming pattern conjures thoughts of frivolous love.
    Finally, the poet conveys his message by using metaphors
    “Words from my eyes did start /They spoke as cords do from the string”.
    This suggests how he is dumbstruck and his jaw won’t let his mouth speak
    for himself, but his eyes are trying to.
    Cara Thomson

  2. Hi Cara. Many thanks for your comment! It’s rather spot on and you used your annotations really well. I like your paragraph as you express what you think the poem is about generally, and you support your ideas well by delving into the language used. 🙂

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