What techniques does John Clare use in "First Love" to portray his emotions?

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In the first two lines, the speaker claims how "struck" he was with his first love. The repetition of the word "sudden" and alliteration in the second line give this emotion singing quality. He uses similes to explain that his face turned pale as deadly pale and his life appeared to be turned to clay. In the second stanza, still overcome with emotion, he feels like he's lost his sight. With another simile, he says that, with the loss of sight, trees and bushes seem midnight at noonday. The third stanza expresses doubt when he uses symbolism of winter and snow to describe a cold love bed.

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In the first two lines, the speaker claims how "struck" he was with his first love. Clare uses alliteration in the second line to give his emotion upon being struck a singing quality. The repetition of the "s" in this line also emphasizes the significant words "sudden" and "sweet." He...

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uses twosimiles to illustrate the experience of being so overwhelmed that he loses all feeling and can't seem to move his body. His face "turned pale as deadly pale" and his "life and all seemed turned to clay." Similes often use "like" or "as" to make comparisons but other words such as "seem" also are used in making similes. 

In the second stanza, still overcome with emotion, he feels like he's lost his sight. Using another simile, he says that, with the loss of sight, the trees and bushes "seemed midnight at noonday." Clare then uses what is called synesthesia. This is when a writer blends or confuses senses. In this case, Clare uses sight and sound to make an evocative point that his eyes are trying to communicate the beauty of what he is seeing: 

Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string, 
In the last stanza, the speaker expresses doubt with the symbolism of "winter" and "snow." If love's bed is cold, there is no warmth, no love-making, no sense of warm feelings. In the first two stanzas, he has been overwhelmed with his first love. But at this point, uncertainty arises. She "seemed" to hear his "silent voice." A silent voice is a paradox. He continues to be confused.
He doesn't get a substantial answer. One could interpret that this is a relationship that has lost its luster. But considering the other stanzas, it seems more likely that this was a brief moment of infatuation. The speaker looks upon her face, he is overwhelmed with love, he ends in confusion, and is never the same. In the last two lines, Clare personifies "heart" as it leaves its "dwelling-place" and can never return. That is to say, he has given his heart to someone and the notion that it (heart) can never return simply means that he will never be the same. 
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How does John Clare effectively use imagery to express the emotions of the speaker in "First Love"?

In the poem “First Love” by John Clare, the speaker describes his first love and the emotions she evokes in him. Clare uses imagery effectively to express the speaker’s emotions. We learn in the first two lines that the speaker experiences love at first sight when he says that the love is “so sudden and so sweet.”

The subject of the poem, this beloved person, steals his heart away completely. The poet compares her to a sweet flower. Seeing her, he goes weak in the knees. He says,

My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away...

Then, “The trees and bushes round the place seemed midnight at noonday.” He creates the imagery of nature and plants being out of their proper time sequence. In other words, it seems like midnight, even though it is the middle of the day. Everything is topsy-turvy for the speaker. His love for the object of his affection blocks out all his other thoughts, thereby making his life chaotic, in an exhilarating way.

The aspect of exhilaration is furthered when he says that his blood rushes to his face and takes his eyesight away. This is analogous to being breathless with love—many people may tell their love, "you take my breath away." Then he again reiterates that he "could not see a single thing.”

He cannot see anything but his love, and he uses his eyes to communicate with her. Words come from his eyes, as he silently speaks to her and tells her of his love. In other words, he looks at her so lovingly that his eyes essentially tell her how he feels. The words from his eyes “spoke as chords do from the string.” This is very lyrical way to say that the look he gives her conveys his love and therefore is almost like music. The “blood burnt round [his] heart,” which implies that his pulse quickens.

In the second stanza, he mixes up time sequences—specifically midnight and midday, as noted. In the third stanza, he mixes seasons when he asks if “flowers [are] the winter’s choice." The reader knows that flowers generally do not blossom during the winter, but this continues the theme of the poet's life being topsy-turvy because of his deep feelings for his first love.

When he says, “She seemed to hear my silent voice,” he is again communicating with her silently with his eyes. His “heart has left its dwelling-place and can return no more.” He has given her his heart, and it will never be free for him to give to another.

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