Failed investments and business ventures, however, left Clodfelter impoverished and uncharacteristically angry. He left Crawfordsville, and wrote a long vindictive poem against it. His fame turned to notoriety, and his prior work which had once been popular was lambasted. Critics called him a "diseased mind" before his death in 1901.
Among the first poems included in his first book is an acrostic made using the poet's name, titled "Introductory Acrostic Sonnet":
N aught in this volume have I penn'd for praise.
O r condemnation, and I shall disclaim
A ll early expectations of a name;
H owever, pleasant hours in early days
C ame to me as I wrote these simple lays.
L ost in the labyrinthine bowers, or shame
O f poesy, it matters not — there came
D espondency to greet me, and the plays,
F or sporting childhood, had no charm for me;
E nough to know, then, why I wrote to kill
L ong time that drags me on against my will,
T o the dark brink of vast eternity,
E ncompass'd by oblivion's silence, still
R etiring in the vale of Lethe's hill.