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Poems of Coleridge by Coleridge, ed Arthur Symons

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And there he left it, like a Sylph beguiled,
To live and yearn and languish incomplete!


Can wit of man a heavier grief reveal?
Can sharper pang from hate or scorn arise?--
Yes! one more sharp there is that deeper lies,
Which fond Esteem but mocks when he would heal.
Yet neither scorn nor hate did it devise,
But sad compassion and atoning zeal!
One pang more blighting-keen than hope betray'd!
And this it is my woeful hap to feel,
When, at her Brother's hest, the twin-born Maid
With face averted and unsteady eyes,
Her truant playmate's faded robe puts on;
And inly shrinking from her own disguise
Enacts the faery Boy that's lost and gone.
O worse than all! O pang all pangs above
Is Kindness counterfeiting absent Love!



Sad lot, to have no Hope! Though lowly kneeling
He fain would frame a prayer within his breast,
Would fain entreat for some sweet breath of healing,
That his sick body might have ease and rest;
He strove in vain! the dull sighs from his chest
Against his will the stifling load revealing,
Though Nature forced; though like some captive guest,
Some royal prisoner at his conqueror's feast,
An alien's restless mood but half concealing,
The sternness on his gentle brow confessed,
Sickness within and miserable feeling:
Though obscure pangs made curses of his dreams,
And dreaded sleep, each night repelled in vain,
Each night was scattered by its own loud screams:
Yet never could his heart command, though fain,
One deep full wish to be no more in pain.

That Hope, which was his inward bliss and boast,
Which waned and died, yet ever near him stood,
Though changed in nature, wander where he would--
For Love's Despair is but Hope's pining Ghost!
For this one hope he makes his hourly moan,
He wishes and _can_ wish for this alone!
Pierced, as with light from Heaven, before its gleams
(So the love-stricken visionary deems)
Disease would vanish, like a summer shower,
Whose dews fling sunshine from the noon-tide bower!
Or let it stay! yet this one Hope should give
Such strength that he would bless his pains and live.

?1807 ?181O.


Ere on my bed my limbs I lay,
It hath not been my use to pray
With moving lips or bended knees;
But silently, by slow degrees,
My spirit I to Love compose,
In humble trust mine eye-lids close,
With reverential resignation,
No wish conceived, no thought exprest,
Only a _sense_ of supplication;
A sense o'er all my soul imprest
That I am weak, yet not unblest,
Since in me, round me, everywhere
Eternal Strength and Wisdom are.

But yester-night I pray'd aloud
In anguish and in agony,
Up-starting from the fiendish crowd
Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me:
A lurid light, a trampling throng,
Sense of intolerable wrong,
And whom I scorned, those only strong!
Thirst of revenge, the powerless will
Still baffled, and yet burning still!
Desire with loathing strangely mixed
On wild or hateful objects fixed.
Fantastic passions! maddening brawl!
And shame and terror over all!
Deeds to be hid which were not hid,
Which all confused I could not know
Whether I suffered, or I did:
For all seem'd guilt, remorse or woe,
My own or others still the same
Life-stifling fear, soul-stifling shame!

So two nights passed: the night's dismay
Saddened and stunned the coming day.
Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me
Distemper's worst calamity.
The third night, when my own loud scream
Had waked me from the fiendish dream,
O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild,
I wept as I had been a child;
And having thus by tears subdued
My anguish to a milder mood,
Such punishments, I said, were due
To natures deepliest stained with sin:
For aye entempesting anew
The unfathomable hell within
The horror of their deeds to view,
To know and loathe, yet wish and do!
Such griefs with such men well agree,
But wherefore, wherefore fall on me?
To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love indeed.



_Lady_. If Love be dead--
_Poet_. And I aver it!
_Lady_. Tell me, Bard! where Love lies buried
_Poet_. Love lies buried where 'twas born:
Oh, gentle dame! think it no scorn
If, in my fancy, I presume
To call thy bosom poor Love's Tomb.
And on that tomb to read the line:--
"Here lies a Love that once seem'd mine.
But took a chill, as I divine,
And died at length of a decline."



Though veiled in spires of myrtle-wreath,
Love is a sword which cuts its sheath,
And through the clefts itself has made,
We spy the flashes of the blade!

But through the clefts itself has made,
We likewise see Love's flashing blade
By rust consumed, or snapt in twain:
And only hilt and stump remain.



One kiss, dear Maid! I said and sighed--
Your scorn the little boon denied.
Ah why refuse the blameless bliss?
Can danger lurk within a kiss?

Yon viewless wanderer of the vale,
The Spirit of the Western Gale,
At Morning's break, at Evening's close
Inhales the sweetness of the Rose,
And hovers o'er the uninjured bloom
Sighing back the soft perfume.
Vigour to the Zephyr's wing
Her nectar-breathing kisses fling;
And He the glitter of the Dew
Scatters on the Rose's hue.
Bashful lo! she bends her head,
And darts a blush of deeper Red!

Too well those lovely lips disclose
The triumphs of the opening Rose;
O fair! O graceful! bid them prove
As passive to the breath of Love.
In tender accents, faint and low,
Well-pleased I hear the whispered "No!"
The whispered "No"--how little meant!
Sweet Falsehood that endears Consent!
For on those lovely lips the while
Dawns the soft relenting smile,
And tempts with feigned dissuasion coy
The gentle violence of Joy.



That Jealousy may rule a mind
Where Love could never be
I know; but ne'er expect to find
Love without Jealousy.

She has a strange cast in her ee,
A swart sour-visaged maid--
But yet Love's own twin-sister she,
His house-mate and his shade.

Ask for her and she'll be denied:--
What then? they only mean
Their mistress has lain down to sleep,
And can't just then be seen.




I ask'd my fair one happy day,
What I should call her in my lay;
By what sweet name from Rome or Greece;
Lalage, Nesera, Chloris,
Sappho, Lesbia, or Doris,
Arethusa or Lucrece.

"Ah!" replied my gentle fair,
"Beloved, what are names but air?
Choose thou whatever suits the line;
Call me Sappho, call me Chloris,
Call me Lalage or Doris,
Only, only call me Thine."

_Morning Post_, August 27,1799.


Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus.--CATULLUS.

My Lesbia, let us love and live,
And to the winds, my Lesbia, give
Each cold restraint, each boding fear
Of age and all her saws severe.
Yon sun now posting to the main
Will set,--but 'tis to rise again;--
But we, when once our mortal light
Is set, must sleep in endless night.
Then come, with whom alone I'll live,
A thousand kisses take and give!
Another thousand!--to the store
Add hundreds--then a thousand more!
And when they to a million mount,
Let confusion take the account,--
That you, the number never knowing,
May continue still bestowing--
That I for joys may never pine,
Which never can again be mine!

_Morning Post_, April 11, 1798.


Lugete, O Veneres, Cupidinesque.--CATULLUS.

Pity! mourn in plaintive tone
The lovely starling dead and gone!
Pity mourns in plaintive tone
The lovely starling dead and gone.
Weep, ye Loves! and Venus! weep
The lovely starling fall'n asleep!
Venus sees with tearful eyes--
In her lap the starling lies!
While the Loves all in a ring
Softly stroke the stiffen'd wing.





Unperishing youth!
Thou leapest from forth
The cell of thy hidden nativity;
Never mortal saw
The cradle of the strong one;
Never mortal heard
The gathering of his voices;
The deep-murmur'd charm of the son of the rock,
That is lisp'd evermore at his slumberless fountain.
There's a cloud at the portal, a spray-woven veil
At the shrine of his ceaseless renewing;
It embosoms the roses of dawn,
It entangles the shafts of the noon,
And into the bed of its stillness
The moonshine sinks down as in slumber,
That the son of the rock, that the nursling of heaven
May be born in a holy twilight!


The wild goat in awe
Looks up and beholds
Above thee the cliff inaccessible;--
Thou at once full-born
Madd'nest in thy joyance,
Whirlest, shatter'st, splitt'st,
Life invulnerable.





Earth! thou mother of numberless children, the nurse and the mother,
Hail! O Goddess, thrice hail! Blest be thou! and, blessing, I hymn thee!
Forth, ye sweet sounds! from my harp, and my voice shall float on your surges--
Soar thou aloft, O my soul! and bear up my song on thy pinions.

Travelling the vale with mine eyes--green meadows and lake with green island,
Dark in its basin of rock, and the bare stream flowing in brightness,

Thrill'd with thy beauty and love in the wooded slope of the mountain,
Here, great mother, I lie, thy child, with his head on thy bosom!
Playful the spirits of noon, that rushing soft through thy tresses,
Green-hair'd goddess! refresh me; and hark! as they hurry or linger,
Fill the pause of my harp, or sustain it with musical murmurs.
Into my being thou murmurest joy, and tenderest sadness
Shedd'st thou, like dew, on my heart, till the joy and the heavenly sadness
Pour themselves forth from my heart in tears, and the hymn of thanksgiving.

Earth! thou mother of numberless children, the nurse and the mother,
Sister thou of the stars, and beloved by the Sun, the rejoicer!
Guardian and friend of the moon, O Earth, whom the comets forget not,
Yea, in the measureless distance wheel round and again they behold thee!
Fadeless and young (and what if the latest birth of creation?)
Bride and consort of Heaven, that looks down upon thee enamour'd!

Say, mysterious Earth! O say, great mother and goddess,
Was it not well with thee then, when first thy lap was ungirdled,
Thy lap to the genial Heaven, the day that he woo'd thee and won thee!
Fair was thy blush, the fairest and first of the blushes of morning!
Deep was the shudder, O Earth! the throe of thy self-retention:
Inly thou strovest to flee, and didst seek thyself at thy centre!
Mightier far was the joy of thy sudden resilience; and forthwith
Myriad myriads of lives teem'd forth from the mighty embracement.
Thousand-fold tribes of dwellers, impell'd by thousand-fold instincts,
Fill'd, as a dream, the wide waters; the rivers sang on their channels;
Laugh'd on their shores the hoarse seas; the yearning ocean swell'd upward;
Young life low'd through the meadows, the woods, and the echoing mountains,
Wander'd bleating in valleys, and warbled on blossoming branches.




Never, believe me,
Appear the Immortals,
Never alone:
Scarce had I welcomed the Sorrow-beguiler,
Iacchus! but in came Boy Cupid the Smiler;
Lo! Phoebus the Glorious descends from his throne!
They advance, they float in, the Olympians all!
With Divinities fills my
Terrestrial hall!

How shall I yield you
Due entertainment,
Celestial quire?
Me rather, bright guests! with your wings of upbuoyance
Bear aloft to your homes, to your banquets of joyance,
That the roofs of Olympus may echo my lyre!
Hah! we mount! on their pinions they waft up my soul!
O give me the nectar!
O fill me the bowl!

Give him the nectar!
Pour out for the poet,
Hebe! pour free!
Quicken his eyes with celestial dew,
That Styx the detested no more he may view,
And like one of us Gods may conceit him to be!
Thanks, Hebe! I quaff it! Io Paean, I cry!
The wine of the Immortals
Forbids me to die!

? 1799.


She gave with joy her virgin breast;
She hid it not, she bared the breast
Which suckled that divinest babe!
Blessed, blessed were the breasts
Which the Saviour infant kiss'd;
And blessed, blessed was the mother
Who wrapp'd his limbs in swaddling clothes,
Singing placed him on her lap,
Hung o'er him with her looks of love,
And soothed him with a lulling motion.
Blessed! for she shelter'd him
From the damp and chilling air;
Blessed, blessed! for she lay
With such a bade in one blest bed,
Close as babes and mothers lie!
Blessed, blessed evermore,
With her virgin lips she kiss'd,
With her arms, and to her breast,
She embraced the babe divine,
Her babe divine the virgin mother!
There lives not on this ring of earth
A mortal that can sing her praise.
Mighty mother, virgin pure,
In the darkness and the night
For us she _bore_ the heavenly Lord!

? 1799.



Dormi, Jesu! Mater ridet
Quae tarn dulcem somnum videt,
Dormi, Jesu! blandule!
Si non dormis, Mater plorat,
Inter fila cantans orat,
Blande, veni, somnule.


Sleep, sweet babe! my cares beguiling:
Mother sits beside thee smiling;
Sleep, my darling, tenderly!
If thou sleep not, mother mourneth,
Singing as her wheel she turneth:
Come, soft slumber, balmily!



Ere Sin could blight or Sorrow fade,
Death came with friendly care;
The opening bud to Heaven conveyed,
And bade it blossom there.



"Be, rather than be call'd, a child of God,"
Death whisper'd!--with assenting nod,
Its head upon its mother's breast,
The Baby bow'd, without demur--
Of the kingdom of the Blest
Possessor, not inheritor.

_April 8th_, 1799.


Its balmy lips the infant blest
Relaxing from its mother's breast,
How sweet it heaves the happy sigh
Of innocent satiety!

And such my infant's latest sigh!
Oh tell, rude stone! the passer by,
That here the pretty babe doth lie,
Death sang to sleep with Lullaby.





I know it is dark; and though I have lain,
Awake, as I guess, an hour or twain,
I have not once open'd the lids of my eyes,
But I lie in the dark, as a blind man lies.
O Rain! that I lie listening to,
You're but a doleful sound at best:
I owe you little thanks,'tis true,
For breaking thus my needful rest!
Yet if, as soon as it is light,
O Rain! you will but take your flight,
I'll neither rail, nor malice keep,
Though sick and sore for want of sleep.
But only now, for this one day,
Do go, dear Rain! do go away!


O Rain! with your dull two-fold sound,
The clash hard by, and the murmur all round!
You know, if you know aught, that we,
Both night and day, but ill agree:
For days and months, and almost years,
Have limp'd on through this vale of tears,
Since body of mine, and rainy weather,
Have lived on easy terms together.
Yet if, as soon as it is light,
O Rain! you will but take your flight,
Though you should come again to-morrow,
And bring with you both pain and sorrow;
Though stomach should sicken and knees should swell--
I'll nothing speak of you but well.
But only now for this one day,
Do go, dear Rain! do go away!


Dear Rain! I ne'er refused to say
You're a good creature in your way;
Nay, I could write a book myself,
Would fit a parson's lower shelf,
Showing how very good you are. --
What then? sometimes it must be fair!
And if sometimes, why not to-day?
Do go, dear Rain! do go away!


Dear Rain! if I've been cold and shy,
Take no offence! I'll tell you why.
A dear old Friend e'en now is here,
And with him came my sister dear;
After long absence now first met,
Long months by pain and grief beset--
We three dear friends! in truth, we groan
Impatiently to be alone.
We three, you mark! and not one more!
The strong wish makes my spirit sore.
We have so much to talk about,
So many sad things to let out;
So many tears in our eye-corners,
Sitting like little Jacky Homers--
In short, as soon as it is day,
Do go, dear Rain! do go away!


And this I'll swear to you, dear Rain!
Whenever you shall come again,
Be you as dull as e'er you could
(And by the bye 'tis understood,
You're not so pleasant as you're good),
Yet, knowing well your worth and place,
I'll welcome you with cheerful face;
And though you stay'd a week or more,
Were ten times duller than before;
Yet with kind heart, and right good will,
I'll sit and listen to you still;
Nor should you go away, dear Rain!
Uninvited to remain.
But only now, for this one day,
Do go, dear Rain! do go away!



Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, "I love and I love!"
In the winter they're silent--the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving-all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he--
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"




If I had but two little wings
And were a little feathery bird,
To you I'd fly, my dear!
But thoughts like these are idle things,
And I stay here.

But in my sleep to you I fly:
I'm always with you in my sleep!
The world is all one's own.
But then one wakes, and where am I?
All, all alone.

Sleep stays not, though a monarch bids:
So I love to wake ere break of day:
For though my sleep be gone,
Yet while 'tis dark, one shuts one's lids,
And still dreams on.

_April 23, 1799_.


Encinctured with a twine of leaves,
That leafy twine his only dress!
A lovely Boy was plucking fruits,
By moonlight, in a wilderness.
The moon was bright, the air was free,
And fruits and flowers together grew,
On many a shrub and many a tree:
And all put on a gentle hue,
Hanging in the shadowy air
Like a picture rich and rare.
It was a climate where, they say,
The night is more belov'd than day.
But who that beauteous Boy beguil'd,
That beauteous Boy to linger here?
Alone, by night, a little child,
In place so silent and so wild-
Has he no friend, no loving mother near?



Where is the grave of Sir Arthur O'Kellyn?
Where may the grave of that good man be?--
By the side of a spring, on the breast of Helvellyn,
Under the twigs of a young birch tree!
The oak that in summer was sweet to hear,
And rustled its leaves in the fall of the year,
And whistled and roar'd in the winter alone,
Is gone,--and the birch in its stead is grown.--
The Knight's bones are dust,
And his good sword rust;--
His soul is with the saints, I trust.

? 1817.



_The Scene a desolated Tract in La Vendee. _FAMINE_
_is discovered lying on the ground; to her enter_

_Fam._ Sisters! sisters! who sent you here?

_Slau._ [to Fire]. I will whisper it in her ear.

_Fire._ No! no! no!
Spirits hear what spirits tell:
'Twill make an holiday in Hell.
No! no! no!
Myself, I named him once below,
And all the souls, that damned be,
Leaped up at once in anarchy,
Clapped their hands and danced for glee.
They no longer heeded me;
But laughed to hear Hell's burning rafters
Unwillingly re-echo laughters!
No! no! no!
Spirits hear what spirits tell:
'Twill make an holiday in Hell!

_Fam._ Whisper it, sister! so and so!
In the dark hint, soft and slow.

_Slau._ Letters four do form his name-
And who sent you?

_Both._ The same! the same!

_Slau._ He came by stealth, and unlocked my
And I have drunk the blood since then
Of thrice three hundred thousand men.

_Both._ Who bade you do't?

_Slau._ The same! the same!
Letters four do form his name.
He let me loose, and cried Halloo!
To him alone the praise is due.

_Fam._ Thanks, sister, thanks! the men have bled,
Their wives and their children faint for bread.
I stood in a swampy field of battle;
With bones and skulls I made a rattle,
To frighten the wolf and carrion-crow
And the homeless dog--but they would not go.
So off I flew: for how could I bear
To see them gorge their dainty fare?
I heard a groan and a peevish squall,
And through the chink of a cottage-wall--
Can you guess what I saw there?

_Both_. Whisper it, sister! in our ear.

_Fam_. A baby beat its dying mother:
I had starved the one and was starving the other!

_Both_. Who bade you do't?

_Fam_. The same! the same!
Letters four do form his name.
He let me loose, and cried Halloo!
To him alone the praise is due.

_Fire_. Sisters! I from Ireland came!
Hedge and corn-fields all on flame,
I triumph'd o'er the setting sun!
And all the while the work was done,
On as I strode with my huge strides,
I flung back my head and I held my sides,
It was so rare a piece of fun
To see the sweltered cattle run
With uncouth gallop through the night,
Scared by the red and noisy light!
By the light of his own blazing cot
Was many a naked Rebel shot:
The house-stream met the flame and hissed,
While crash! fell in the roof, I wist,
On some of those old bed-rid nurses,
That deal in discontent and curses.

_Both._ Who bade you do't?

_Fire._ The same! the same!
Letters four do form his name.
He let me loose, and cried Halloo!
To him alone the praise is due.

_All._ He let us loose, and cried Halloo!
How shall we yield him honour due?

_Fam._ Wisdom comes with lack of food.
I'll gnaw, I'll gnaw the multitude,
Till the cup of rage o'erbrim:
They shall seize him and his brood--

_Slau._ They shall tear him limb from limb!

_Fire._ O thankless beldames and untrue!
And is this all that you can do
For him, who did so much for you?
Ninety months he, by my troth!
Hath richly catered for you both;
And in an hour would you repay
An eight years' work?--Away! away!
I alone am faithful! I
Cling to him everlastingly.



The Devil believes that the Lord will come,
Stealing a march without beat of drum,
About the same time that he came last
On an old Christmas-day in a snowy blast:
Till he bids the trump sound neither body nor soul stirs
For the dead men's heads have slipt under their bolsters.

Ho! ho! brother Bard, in our churchyard
Both beds and bolsters are soft and green;
Save one alone, and that's of stone,
And under it lies a Counsellor keen.
This tomb would be square, if it were not too long;
And 'tis rail'd round with iron, tall, spear-like, and strong.

This fellow from Aberdeen hither did skip
With a waxy face and a blubber lip,
And a black tooth in front to show in part
What was the colour of his whole heart.
This Counsellor sweet,
This Scotchman complete
(The Devil scotch him for a snake!),
I trust he lies in his grave awake.
On the sixth of January,
When all around is white with snow
As a Cheshire yeoman's dairy,
Brother Bard, ho! ho! believe it, or no,
On that stone tomb to you I'll show
After sunset, and before cock-crow,
Two round spaces clear of snow.
I swear by our Knight and his forefathers' souls,
That in size and shape they are just like the holes
In the large house of privity
Of that ancient family.
On those two places clear of snow
There have sat in the night for an hour or so,
Before sunrise, and after cock-crow
(He hicking his heels, she cursing her corns,
All to the tune of the wind in their horns),
The Devil and his Grannam,
With the snow-drift to fan 'em;
Expecting and hoping the trumpet to blow;
For they are cock-sure of the fellow below!



From his brimstone bed at break of day
A walking the DEVIL is gone,
To visit his little snug farm of the earth
And see how his stock went on.

Over the hill and over the dale,
And he went over the plain,
And backward and forward he swished his long tail
As a gentleman swishes his cane.

And how then was the Devil drest?
Oh! he was in his Sunday's best:
His jacket was red and his breeches were blue,
And there was a hole where the tail came through.

He saw a LAWYER killing a Viper
On a dung heap beside his stable,
And the Devil smiled, for it put him in mind
Of Cain and _his_ brother, Abel.

A POTHECARY on a white horse
Rode by on his vocations,
And the Devil thought of his old Friend
DEATH in the Revelations.

He saw a cottage with a double coach-house,
A cottage of gentility!
And the Devil did grin, for his darling sin
Is pride that apes humility.

He went into a rich bookseller's shop,
Quoth he! we are both of one college,
For I myself sate like a cormorant once
Fast by the tree of knowledge.

Down the river there plied, with wind and tide,
A pig with vast celerity;
And the Devil look'd wise as he saw how the while,
It cut its own throat. "There!" quoth he with a smile,
"Goes 'England's commercial prosperity.'"

As he went through Cold-Bath Fields he saw
A solitary cell;
And the Devil was pleased, for it gave him a hint
For improving his prisons in Hell.

* * * * * *

General ----------- burning face
He saw with consternation,
And back to hell his way did he take,
For the Devil thought by a slight mistake
It was general conflagration.



In Kohln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang'd with murderous stones,
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well denned, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
But tell me, Nymphs! what power divine
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?




Pensive at eve on the hard world I mus'd,
And my poor heart was sad: so at the moon
I gaz'd-and sigh'd, and sigh'd!--for, ah! how soon
Eve darkens into night. Mine eye perus'd
With tearful vacancy the _dampy_ grass
Which wept and glitter'd in the paly ray;
And I did pause me on my lonely way,
And mused me on those wretched ones who pass
O'er the black heath of Sorrow. But, alas!
Most of Myself I thought: when it befell
That the sooth Spirit of the breezy wood
Breath'd in mine ear--"All this is very well;
But much of _one_ thing is for _no_ thing good."
Ah! my poor heart's inexplicable swell!



O! I do love thee, meek _Simplicity_!
For of thy lays the lulling simpleness
Goes to my heart and soothes each small distress,
Distress though small, yet haply great to me!
'Tis true on Lady Fortune's gentlest pad
I amble on; yet, though I know not why,
So sad I am!--but should a friend and I
Grow cool and _miff_, O! I am _very_ sad!
And then with sonnets and with sympathy
My dreamy bosom's mystic woes I pall;
Now of my false friend plaining plaintively,
Now raving at mankind in general;
But, whether sad or fierce, 'tis simple all,
All very simple, meek Simplicity!



And this reft house is that the which he built,
Lamented Jack! And here his malt he pil'd,
Cautious in vain! These rats that squeak so wild,
Squeak, not unconscious of their father's guilt.
Did ye not see her gleaming thro' the glade?
Belike, 'twas she, the maiden all forlorn.
What though she milk no cow with crumpled horn,
Yet _aye_ she haunts the dale where erst she stray'd;
And _aye_ beside her stalks her amorous knight!
Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn,
And thro' those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn,
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white;
As when thro' broken clouds at night's high noon
Peeps in fair fragments forth the full--orb'd harvest-moon!



Tis a strange place, this Limbo!--not a Place,
Yet name it so;--where Time and weary Space
Fettered from flight, with night-mare sense of fleeing,
Strive for their last crepuscular half-being;--
Lank Space, and scytheless Time with branny hands
Barren and soundless as the measuring sands,
Not mark'd by flit of Shades,--unmeaning they
As moonlight on the dial of the day!
But that is lovely--looks like human Time,--
An old man with a steady look sublime,
That stops his earthly task to watch the skies;
But he is blind--a statue hath such eyes;--
Yet having moonward turn'd his face by chance,
Gazes the orb with moon-like countenance,
With scant white hairs, with fore top bald and high,
He gazes still,--his eyeless face all eye;--
As 'twere an organ full of silent sight,
His whole face seemeth to rejoice in light!
Lip touching lip, all moveless, bust and limb--
He seems to gaze at that which seems to gaze on him!
No such sweet sights doth Limbo den immure,
Wall'd round, and made a spirit-jail secure,
By the mere horror of blank Naught-at-all,
Whose circumambience doth these ghosts enthral.
A lurid thought is growthless, dull Privation,
Yet that is but a Purgatory curse;
Hell knows a fear far worse,
A fear--a future state;--'tis positive Negation!




[** Macron and breve accent marks have been left off, see the note
in the Forum.]

Trochee trips from long to short;
From long to long in solemn sort
Slow Spondee stalks; strong foot! yea ill able
Ever to come up with Dactyl trisyllable.
Iambics march from short to long;--
With a leap and a bound the swift Anapaests throng;
One syllable long, with one short at each side,
Amphibrachys hastes with a stately stride;--
First and last being long, middle short, Amphimacer
Strikes his thundering hoofs like a proud highbred Racer.
If Derwent be innocent, steady, and wise,
And delight in the things of earth, water, and skies;
Tender warmth at his heart, with these metres to show it,
With sound sense in his brains, may make Derwent a poet,--
May crown him with fame, and must win him the love
Of his father on earth and his Father above.
My dear, dear child!
Could you stand upon Skiddaw, you would not from its whole ridge
See a man who so loves you as your fond S. T. COLERIDGE.




Strongly it bears us along in swelling and limitless billows,
Nothing before and nothing behind but the sky and the ocean.

? 1799.



In the hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column;
In the pentameter aye falling in melody back.




Hear, my beloved, an old Milesian story!--
High, and embosom'd in congregated laurels,
Glimmer'd a temple upon a breezy headland;
In the dim distance amid the skiey billows
Rose a fair island; the god of flocks had blest it.
From the far shores of the bleat-resounding island
Oft by the moonlight a little boat came floating,
Came to the sea-cave beneath the breezy headland,
Where amid myrtles a pathway stole in mazes
Up to the groves of the high embosom'd temple.
There in a thicket of dedicated roses,
Oft did a priestess, as lovely as a vision,
Pouring her soul to the son of Cytherea,
Pray him to hover around the slight canoe-boat,
And with invisible pilotage to guide it
Over the dusk wave, until the nightly sailor
Shivering with ecstasy sank upon her bosom.

? 1799.

TO ----

I mix in life, and labour to seem free,
With common persons pleased and common things,
While every thought and action tends to thee,
And every impulse from thy influence springs.

? 1796.


Under this stone does Walter Harcourt lie,
Who valued nought that God or man could give;
He lived as if he never thought to die;
He died as if he dared not hope to live!



Ere the birth of my life, if I wish'd it or no,
No question was asked me--it could not be so!
If the life was the question, a thing sent to try,
And to live on be Yes; what can No be? to die.


Is't returned, as 'twas sent? Is't no worse for the wear?
Think first, what you are! Call to mind what you were!
I gave you innocence, I gave you hope,
Gave health, and genius, and an ample scope.
Return you me guilt, lethargy, despair?
Make out the invent'ry; inspect, compare!
Then die--if die you dare!



"How seldom, friend! a good great man inherits
Honour or wealth with all his worth and pains!
It sounds like stories from the land of spirits
If any man obtain that which he merits
Or any merit that which he obtains."


For shame, dear friend, renounce this canting strain!
What would'st thou have a good great man obtain?
Place? titles? salary? a gilded chain?
Or throne of corses which his sword had slain?
Greatness and goodness are not _means_, but _ends_!
Hath he not always treasures, always friends,
The good great man? _three_ treasures, LOVE, and LIGHT,
And CALM THOUGHTS, regular as infant's breath:
And three firm friends, more sure than day and night,

Morning Post, Sept. 23,1802.


This Sycamore, oft musical with bees,--
Such tents the Patriarchs loved! O long unharmed
May all its aged boughs o'er-canopy
The small round basin, which this jutting stone
Keeps pure from falling leaves! Long may the Spring,
Quietly as a sleeping infant's breath,
Send up cold waters to the traveller
With soft and even pulse! Nor ever cease
Yon tiny cone of sand its soundless dance,
Which at the bottom, like a Fairy's Page,
As merry and no taller, dances still,
Nor wrinkles the smooth surface of the Fount.
Here twilight is and coolness: here is moss,
A soft seat, and a deep and ample shade.
Thou may'st toil far and find no second tree.
Drink, Pilgrim, here! Here rest! and if thy heart
Be innocent, here too shalt thou refresh
Thy spirit, listening to some gentle sound,
Or passing gale or hum of murmuring bees!



Now! it is gone.--Our brief hours travel post,
Each with its thought or deed, its Why or How:--
But know, each parting hour gives up a ghost
To dwell within thee-an eternal NOW!

? 183O.


'Tis true, Idoloclastes Satyrane!
(So call him, for so mingling blame with praise
And smiles with anxious looks, his earliest friends,
Masking his birth-name, wont to character
His wild-wood fancy and impetuous zeal)
'Tis true that, passionate for ancient truths,
And honouring with religious love the Great
Of older times, he hated to excess,
With an unquiet and intolerant scorn,
The hollow puppets of an hollow age,
Ever idolatrous, and changing ever
Its worthless idols! Learning, power, and time,
(Too much of all) thus wasting in vain war
Of fervid colloquy. Sickness, 'tis true,
Whole years of weary days, besieged him close,
Even to the gates and inlets of his life!
But it is true, no less, that strenuous, firm,
And with a natural gladness, he maintained
The citadel unconquered, and in joy
Was strong to follow the delightful Muse.
For not a hidden path, that to the shades
Of the beloved Parnassian forest leads,
Lurked undiscovered by him; not a rill
There issues from the fount of Hippocrene,
But he had traced it upward to its source,
Through open glade, dark glen, and secret dell,
Knew the gay wild flowers on its banks, and culled
Its med'cinable herbs. Yea, oft alone,
Piercing the long-neglected holy cave,
The haunt obscure of old Philosophy,
He bade with lifted torch its starry walls
Sparkle, as erst they sparkled to the flame
Of odorous lamps tended by Saint and Sage.
O framed for calmer times and nobler hearts!
O studious Poet, eloquent for truth!
Philosopher! contemning wealth and death,
Yet docile, childlike, full of Life and Love!
Here, rather than on monumental stone,
This record of thy worth thy Friend inscribes,
Thoughtful, with quiet tears upon his cheek.

? 1809.


Stop, Christian passer-by!--Stop, child of God,
And read with gentle breast. Beneath this sod
A poet lies, or that which once seem'd he.--
O, lift one thought in prayer for S. T. C.;
That he who many a year with toil of breath
Found death in life, may here find life in death!
Mercy for praise--to be forgiven for fame
He ask'd, and hoped, through Christ. Do thou the same!

_9th November 1833_.


I am indebted to Mr. Heinemann, the owner of the copyright of Dykes
Campbell's edition of Coleridge's Poetical Works (Macmillan & Co., 1893)
for permission to use that text (one of the most carefully edited texts of
any English poet) in this volume of selections. My aim, in making these
selections, has been to give every poem of Coleridge's that seems to me
really good, and nothing else. Not every poem, none perhaps of those in
blank verse, is equal throughout; but I think readers of Coleridge will be
surprised to find how few of the poems contained in this volume are not of
almost flawless workmanship, as well of incomparable poetic genius.
Scarcely any English poet gains so much as Coleridge by not being read in a
complete edition. The gulf between his best and his worst work is as wide
as the gulf between good and evil. Even Wordsworth, even Byron, is not so
intolerable to read in a complete edition. But Coleridge, much more easily
than Byron or Wordsworth, can be extricated from his own lumber-heaps; it
is rare in his work to find a poem which is really good in parts and not
really good as a whole. I have taken every poem on its own merits as
poetry, its own technical merits as verse; and thus have included equally
the frigid eighteenth-century conceits of "The Kiss" and the modern
burlesque license of the comic fragments. But I have excluded everything
which has an interest merely personal, or indeed any other interest than
that of poetry; and I have thus omitted the famous "Ode on the Departing
Year," in spite of the esteem in which Coleridge held it, and in spite of
its one exquisite line--

"God's image, sister of the Seraphim"--

and I have omitted it because as a whole it is untempered rhetoric,
shapeless in form; and I have also omitted confession pieces such as that
early one which contains, among its otherwise too emphatic utterances, the
most delicate and precise picture which Coleridge ever drew of himself:

"To me hath Heaven with bounteous hand assigned
Energic Reason and a shaping mind,
The daring ken of Truth, the Patriot's part,
And Pity's sigh, that breathes the gentle heart--
Sloth-jaundiced all! and from my graspless hand
Drop Friendship's precious pearls, like hour-glass sand.
I weep, yet stoop not! the faint anguish flows,
A dreamy pang in Morning's feverish doze."

Every poem that I have given I have given in full, and, without exception,
in the form in which Coleridge left it. The dates given after the poems are
Dykes Campbell's; occasionally I have corrected the date given in the text
of his edition by his own correction in the notes.

p. I. _The Ancient Mariner_. The marginal analysis which Coleridge
added in reprinting the poem (from the _Lyrical Ballads_) in
_Sibylline Leaves_, has been transferred to this place, where it can
be read without interrupting the narrative in verse.


An ancient Mariner meeteth three Gallants bidden to a wedding-feast, and
detaineth one.

The Wedding-Guest is spell-bound by the eye of the old sea-faring man, and
constrained to hear his tale.

The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair
weather, till it reached the Line.

The Wedding-Guest heareth the bridal music; but the Mariner continueth his

The ship driven by a storm toward the south pole.

The land of ice, and of fearful sounds where no living thing was to be

Till a great sea-bird, called the Albatross, came through the snow-fog, and
was received with great joy and hospitality.

And lo! the Albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship
as it returned northward through fog and floating ice.

The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen.


His shipmates cry out against the ancient Mariner, for killing the bird of
good luck.

But when the fog cleared off, they justify the same, and thus make
themselves accomplices in the crime.

The fair breeze continues; the ship enters the Pacific Ocean, and sails
northward, even till it reaches the Line.

The ship hath been suddenly becalmed.

And the Albatross begins to be avenged.

A Spirit had followed them; one of the invisible inhabitants of this
planet, neither departed souls nor angels; concerning whom the learned Jew,
Josephus, and the Platonic Constantinopolitan, Michael Psellus, may be
consulted. They are very numerous, and there is no climate or element
without one or more.

The shipmates, in their sore distress, would fain throw the whole guilt on
the ancient Mariner:

In sign whereof they hang the dead sea-bird round his neck.


The ancient Mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off.

At its nearer approach, it seemeth him to be a ship; and at a dear ransom
he freeth his speech from the bonds of thirst.

A flash of joy;

And horror follows. For can it be a ship that comes onward without wind or

It seemeth him but the skeleton of a ship.

And its ribs are seen as bars on the face of the setting Sun.

The Spectre-Woman and her Death-mate, and no other on board the skeleton-

Like vessel, like crew!

Death and Life-in-Death have diced for the ship's crew, and she (the
latter) winneth the ancient Mariner.

No twilight within the courts of the Sun.

At the rising of the Moon,

One after another,

His shipmates drop down dead.

But Life-in-Death begins her work on the ancient Mariner.


The Wedding-Guest feareth that a Spirit is talking to him;

But the ancient Mariner assureth him of his bodily life, and proceedeth to
relate his horrible penance.

He despiseth the creatures of the calm.

And envieth that they should live, and so many lie dead.

But the curse liveth for him in the eye of the dead men.

In his loneliness and fixedness he yearneth towards the journeying Moon,
and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and everywhere the
blue sky belongs to them, and is their appointed rest, and their native
country and their own natural homes, which they enter unannounced, as lords
that are certainly expected and yet there is a silent joy at their arrival.

By the light of the Moon he beholdeth God's creatures of the great calm.

Their beauty and their happiness.

He blesseth them in his heart.

The spell begins to break.


By grace of the holy Mother, the ancient Mariner is refreshed with rain.

He heareth sounds and seeth strange sights and commotions in the sky and
the element.

The bodies of the ship's crew are inspired, and the ship moves on;

But not by the souls of the men, nor by daemons of earth or middle air, but
by a blessed troop of angelic spirits, sent down by the invocation of the
guardian saint.

The lonesome Spirit from the south-pole carries on the ship as far as the
Line, in obedience to the angelic troop, but still requireth vengeance.

The Polar Spirit's fellow-daemons, the invisible inhabitants of the element,
take part in his wrong; and two of them relate, one to the other, that
penance long and heavy for the ancient Mariner hath been accorded to the
Polar Spirit, who returneth southward.


The Mariner hath been cast into a trance; for the angelic power causeth the
vessel to drive northward faster than human life could endure.

The supernatural motion is retarded; the Mariner awakes, and his penance
begins anew.

The curse is finally expiated.

And the ancient Mariner beholdeth his native country.

The angelic spirits leave the dead bodies,

And appear in their own forms of light.


The Hermit of the Wood,

Approacheth the ship with wonder.

The ship suddenly sinketh.

The ancient Mariner is saved in the Pilot's boat.

The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the
penance of life falls on him.

And ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to
travel from land to land,

And to teach, by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God
made and loveth.

p. 27. _Christabel_. Coleridge at his best represents the imaginative
temper in its essence, pure gold, with only just enough alloy to give it
firm bodily substance. "Christabel" is not, like "Kubla Khan," a
disembodied ecstasy, but a coherent effort of the imagination. Yet, when we
come to the second part, the magic is already half gone out of it. Rossetti
says, in a printed letter, with admirable truth: "The conception, and
partly the execution, of the passage in which Christabel repeats by
fascination the serpent-glance of Geraldine, is magnificent; but that is
the only good narrative passage in part two. The rest seems to have reached
a fatal facility of jingling, at the heels whereof followed Scott." A few
of the lines seem to sink almost lower than Scott, and suggest a Gilbert

"He bids thee come without delay
With all thy numerous array.

* * * * *

And he will meet thee on the way
With all his numerous array."

But in the conclusion, which has nothing whatever to do with the poem,
Coleridge is his finest self again: a magical psychologist. It is
interesting to know that Crashaw was the main influence upon Coleridge
while writing "Christabel," and that the "Hymn to the Name and Honour of
the admirable S. Teresa" was "ever present to his mind while writing the
second part."

p. 61. _Love_. This poem was originally published, in the _Morning
Post_ of December 21, 1799, as part of an "Introduction to the Tale of
the Dark Ladie." This introduction begins:

"O leave the lily on its stem;
O leave the rose upon the spray;
O leave the elder-bloom, fair maids!
And listen to my lay.

A cypress and a myrtle bough
This morn around my harp you twined,
Because it fashion'd mournfully
Its murmurs in the wind.

And now a tale of love and woe,
A woeful tale of love I sing;
Hark, gentle maidens! hark, it sighs
And trembles on the string."

p. 65. _The Three Graves_. Coleridge only published what he calls "the
following humble fragment" of what was to have been a poem in six parts;
but he wrote an imperfect sketch of the first two parts, which was
published from the original MS. by Dykes Campbell in his edition. The poem
as Coleridge left it is sufficiently complete, and I have ventured to
divide it into Part I. and Part II., instead of the usual Part III. and
Part IV. It is Coleridge's one attempt to compete with Wordsworth on what
Wordsworth considered his own ground, and it was first published by
Coleridge in _The Friend_ of September 21, 1809, on the advice of
Wordsworth and Southey. "The language," we are told in an introductory
note, "was intended to be dramatic; that is, suited to the narrator; and
the metre corresponds to the homeliness of the diction. It is therefore
presented as the fragment, not of a poem, but of a common Ballad-tale.
Whether this is sufficient to justify the adoption of such a style, in any
metrical composition not professedly ludicrous, the Author is himself in
some doubt. At all events, it is not presented as poetry, and it is in no
way connected with the Author's judgment concerning poetic diction. Its
merits, if any, are exclusively psychological." Exclusively, it would be
unjust to say; but to a degree beyond those of any similar poem of
Wordsworth, certainly.

p. 78. _Dejection_. This ode was originally addressed to Wordsworth,
but before it was published in its first form, the "William" of the still
existing MS. was changed to "Edmund"; in later editions "Edmund" was
changed to "Lady," except in the seventh stanza, where "Otway" is
substituted. The reference in this stanza is to Wordsworth's "Lucy Gray,"
and the germ of the passage occurs in a letter of Coleridge to Poole,
printed by Dykes Campbell in the notes to his edition: "Greta Hall, Feb. 1,
1801.--O my dear, dear Friend! that you were with me by the fireside of my
study here, that I might talk it over with you to the tune of this night-
wind that pipes its thin, doleful, climbing, sinking notes, like a child
that has lost its way, and is crying aloud, half in grief, and half in the
hope to be heard by its mother."

p. 9O. _Fears in Solitude_. Coleridge, who was so often his own best
critic, especially when the criticism was to remain inactive, wrote on an
autograph copy of this poem now belonging to Professor Dowden: "N.B.--The
above is perhaps not Poetry,--but rather a sort of middle thing between
Poetry and Oratory--_sermoni propriora_.--Some parts are, I am
conscious, too tame even for animated prose." It is difficult to say
whether, in such poems as this, Coleridge is overtaken by his besetting
indolence, or whether he is deliberately writing down to the theories of
Wordsworth. Another criticism of his own on his early blank verse, where he
speaks of "the utter want of all rhythm in the verse, the monotony and dead
_plumb down_ of the pauses, and the absence of all bone, muscle and
sinew in the single lines," applies only too well to the larger part of
his work in this difficult metre, so apt to go to sleep by the way.

p. 1O7. _Hymn before Sun-rise_. Coleridge was never at Chamouni, and
the suggestion of his poem is to be found in a poem of twenty lines by a
German poetess, Frederike Brun. Some of the rhetoric of his poem Coleridge
got from the German poetess; the imagination is all his own. It is perhaps
a consequence of its origin that the imagination and the rhetoric never get
quite clear of one another, and that, in spite of some magical lines
(wholly Coleridge's) like:

"O struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars:"

the poem remains somewhat external, a somewhat deliberate heaping up of

p. 114. _The Nightingale_. The persons supposed to take part in this
"conversation poem" are of course William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

p. 134. _A Day-Dream_. "There cannot be any doubt, I think, that the
'Asra' of this poem is Miss Sarah Hutchinson; 'Mary,' her sister (Mrs.
Wordsworth); 'our sister and our friend,' Dorothy and William Wordsworth."

p. 142. _Work without Hope_. "What could be left to hope for when the
man could already do such work?" asks Mr. Swinburne. With this exquisite
poem, in which Coleridge's style is seen in its most faultless union of his
finest qualities, compare this passage from a letter to Lady Beaumont,
about a year earlier: "Though I am at present sadly below even _my_
par of health, or rather unhealth, and am the more depressed thereby from
the consciousness that in this yearly resurrection of Nature from her
winter sleep, amid young leaves and blooms and twittering nest-building
birds, the sun so gladsome, the breezes with such healing on their wings,
all good and lovely things are beneath me, above me, and everywhere around
me, and all from God, while my incapability of enjoying, or, at best,
languor in receiving them, is directly or indirectly from myself, from past
procrastination, and cowardly impatience of pain." It was always upon some
not less solid foundation that Coleridge built these delicate structures.

p. 147. _Phantom_. This, almost Coleridge's loveliest fragment of
verse, was composed in sleep, like "Kubla Khan," "Constancy to an Ideal
Object," and "Phantom or Fact?" There is a quality, in this and some other
poems of Coleridge, which he himself has exquisitely rendered in the
passage on Ariel in the lectures on Shakespeare: "In air he lives, from air
he derives his being, in air he acts; and all his colours and properties
seem to have been obtained from the rainbow and the skies. There is nothing
about Ariel that cannot be conceived to exist either at sunrise or sunset:
hence all that belongs to Ariel belongs to the delight the mind is capable
of receiving from the most lovely external appearances. "Coleridge is the
Ariel of English Poetry: glittering in the song from "Zapolya," translucent
in the "Phantom," infantine, with a note of happy infancy almost like that
of Blake, in "Something Childish, but very Natural." In these poems, and in
the "Ode to the Rain," and the "Inscription for a Fountain on a Heath,"
there is a unique way of feeling, which he can render to us on those rare
occasions when his sensations are uninterrupted; by thought, which clouds
them, or by emotion, which disturbs them. He reveals mysterious intimacies
with natural things, the "flapping" flame or a child's scarcely more
articulate moods. And in some of them, which are experiments in form, he
seems to compete gaily with the Elizabethan lyrists, doing wonderful things
in jest, like one who is for once happy and disengaged, and able to play
with his tormentor, verse.

p. 153. _Forbearance_. "Gently I took that which urgently came" is
from Spenser's "Shepherds' Calendar": "But gently tooke that ungently

p. 154. _Sancti Dominici Pallium_. The "friend," as Dykes Campbell
points out, was Southey, whose "Book of the Church" had been attacked by
Charles Butler. This is one of Coleridge's most masterly experiments in
dealing with material hardly possible to turn into poetry. What exquisite
verse, and what variety of handling! The eighteenth-century smooth force
and pungency of the main part of it ends in an anticipation of the
burlesque energy of some of Mr. George Meredith's most characteristic
verse. Anyone coming upon the lines:

"More than the Protestant milk all newly lapt,
Impearling a tame wild-cat's whiskered jaws,"

would have assigned them without hesitation to the writer of "A Certain
People" and other sonnets in the "Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth."

p. 158. _Ne plus ultra_. This mysterious fragment is one of the most
original experiments which Coleridge ever made, both in metre and in
language (abstract terms becoming concrete through intellectual passion)
and may seem to anticipate "The Unknown Eros."

p. 164. _The Pains of Sleep_. In a letter to Sir George and Lady
Beaumont, dated September 22, 1803, Coleridge wrote, describing his journey
to Scotland: "With the night my horrors commence. During the whole of my
journey three nights out of four I have fallen asleep struggling and
resolving to lie awake, and, awaking, have blest the scream which delivered
me from the reluctant sleep.... These dreams, with all their mockery of
guilt, rage, unworthy desires, remorse, shame, and terror, formed at the
time the subject of some Verses, which I had forgotten till the return of
my complaint, and which I will send you in my next as a curiosity."

p. 169. _Names_. Coleridge was as careless as the Elizabethans in
acknowledging the originals of the poems which he translated, whether, as
in this case, he was almost literal, or, as in the case of the Chamouni
poem, he used his material freely. The lines "On a Cataract" are said to be
"improved from Stolberg" in the edition of 1848, edited by Mrs. H. N.
Coleridge; and the title may suit the whole of them.

p. 182. Answer to a Child's Question. I have omitted the four lines,
printed in brackets in Campbell's edition, which were omitted, I think
rightly, by Coleridge in reprinting the poem from the _Morning Post_
of October 16, 1802.

p. 183. _Lines on a Child_. This exquisite fragment is printed in
Coleridge's works in a prefatory note to the prose "Wanderings of Cain." It
was written, he tells us, "for the purpose of procuring a friend's judgment
on the metre, as a specimen" of what was to have been a long poem, in
imitation of "The Death of Abel," written in collaboration with Wordsworth.
"The Ancient Mariner was written instead."

p. 188. _The two Round Spaces on the Tombstone_. This poem was printed
in the _Morning Post_ of December 4, 180O, under the title: "The two
Round Spaces: a Skeltoniad;" and it is this text which is here given, from
Campbell's edition. The "fellow from Aberdeen" was Sir James Mackintosh.
Coleridge apologised for reprinting the verses, "with the hope that they
will be taken, as assuredly they were composed, in mere sport." No apology
was needed; they are the most rich, ripe, and Rabelaisian comic verses he
ever wrote, full-bodied and exultant in their exuberance of wayward and
good-humoured satire.

p. 192. _Sonnets Attempted in the Manner of Contemporary Writers_.
Dykes Campbell quotes a letter of Coleridge to Cottle, which he attributes
to the year 1797, in which Coleridge says: "I sent to the _Monthly
Magazine_ three mock sonnets in ridicule of my own Poems, and Charles
Lloyd's, and Charles Lamb's, etc. etc., exposing that affectation of
unaffectedness, of jumping and misplaced accent, in commonplace epithets,
flat lines forced into poetry by italics (signifying how well and
mouthishly the author would read them), puny pathos, etc. etc. The
instances were all taken from myself and Lloyd and Lamb. I signed them
'Nehemiah Higginbottom.' I think they may do good to our young Bards."

Coleridge's humour, which begins as early as 1794, with the lines on
"Parliamentary Oscillators," is one of the outlets of an oppressively
ingenious mind, over-packed with ideas, which he cannot be content to
express in prose. He delights, as in an intellectual exercise, in the
grapple with difficult technique, the victorious wrestle with grotesque
rhymes. All the comic poems are unusually rich and fine in rhythm, which
seems to exult in its mastery over material so foreign to it.

Yet he has not always or wholly command of this humour. The famous "Lines
to a Young Ass" were first written as a joke, and there is some burlesque
strength in such lines as:

"Where Toil shall wed young Health, that charming Lass!
And use his sleek cows for a looking-glass."

But the mood went, the jest was so far forgotten as to be taken seriously
by himself, and turned into the sober earnest which it remains; a kind of
timidity of the original impression crept in, and we are left to laugh
rather at than with the poet.

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