« AnteriorContinuar »
Thy vesper-bell hath not yet tolld
This drooping gait, this altered size:
And tears take sunshine from thine eyes !
Coleridge was an impressive talker. On one occasion he asked Charles Lamb if he ever heard him preach? “I never heard you do any thing else,” was his reply. His changeful career exhibits many phases of character ; but to us he is most interesting as a poet. After leaving the Lakes—the neighbourhood of Southey, and the birth-place of Christabel—he took up his abode at Highgate, near London, ostensibly for medical treatment of his passion for opium, an indulgence for which he paid a fearful penalty. This habit of intoxication accounts for the strange mystery of his poetry ; which has caused him, indeed, to be styled “a magnificent dreamer.” Yet his wildest and most mystic poems are so thoughtful, dulcet, and fascinating, that they hold us spell-bound. His Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan, are of this class. The last named, which is so remarkable for its rich delicacy of colouring, as well as its melody, owes its origin to the following incident :—The author relates that, in the summer of 1797, he was residing in a lonely farm-house, where, being unwell, he took an anodyne, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair, at the moment he was reading the following sentence in Purchas's Pilgrims :-“Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto; and thus ten miles of fertile ground were enclosed with a wall.” He continued asleep for three hours, during which he vividly remembered having composed from two to three hundred
lines, and this without any consciousness of effort. On awaking, he remembered the whole, and, taking his pen, began instantly and eagerly to commit it to paper. He had written as far as the published fragment, when he was interrupted by some person on urgent business, which detained him about an hour. On resuming his pen, he was morțified to find that, with the exception of a few lines, all had vanished from his memory.
Coleridge's sweet and simple lines, written in early life, To Genevieve, evince a beautiful delicacy of sentiment :
Maid of my love, sweet Genevieve !
In beauty’s light you glide along :
And sweet your voice as seraph's song.
This heart with passion soft to glow;
It bids you hear the tale of woe.
Beholds no hand outstretched to save ;
That rises graceful o'er the wave,
Coleridge had extraordinary power of summoning up images in his own mind; a remarkable instance of this is, his poem purporting to be “composed in the Vale of Chamouni,” since he never was at Chamouni, or near it, in his life, as we learn from Wordsworth. The origin of the Ancient Mariner, as related by Wordsworth, is somewhat humorous. “It arose,” he says, “out of the want of five pounds which Coleridge and I needed to make a tour together in Devonshire. We agreed to write, jointly, a poem, the subject of which Coleridge took from a dream which a friend of his
had once dreamt concerning a person suffering under a dire curse from the commission of some crime. I supplied the crime, the shooting of the Albatross, from an incident I had met with in one of Shelvocke's voyages. We tried the poem conjointly for a day or two, but we pulled different ways, and only a few lines of it are mine.” This fascinating poem is familiar to us all.
Coleridge's exquisite stanzas, entitled Love, were originally preceded by the following beautiful lines :
O leave the lily on its stem ; O leave the rose upon the spray;
And now a tale of love and woe, a woful tale of love I sing ;
Then follow the well-known stanzas, which were intended to form part of a projected poem, entitled The Dark Ladie :
All thoughts, all passions, all delights, whatever stirs this mortal
frame, All are but ministers of Love, and feed his sacred flame. Oft in my waking dreams do I live o'er again that happy hour, When midway on the mount I lay beside the ruined tower. The moonshine, stealing on the scene, had blended with the lights
of eve; And she was there, my hope, my joy,—my own dear Genevieve !
She leaned against the armed man,—the statue of the armed knight ; She stood and listened to my lay, amid the lingering light.
Few sorrows hath she of her own, my hope, my joy, my Genevieve! She loves me best whene’er I sing the songs that make her grieve.
I played a soft and doleful air, I sang an old and moving story, —
Here is introduced the story of the knight ; after which the poet continues :
But when I reached that tenderest strain of all the ditty, My faltering voice and pausing harp disturbed her soul with pity. She wept with pity and delight—she blushed with love and virgin
shame; And, like the murmur of a dream, I heard her breathe my name.
Her bosom heaved, she stepped aside ; as conscious of my look, she
stepped ; Then suddenly, with timorous eye, she Aed to me and wept. She half enclosed me with her arms—she pressed me with a meek
embrace; And bending back her head, looked up, and gazed upon my face.
'Twas partly love and partly fear, and partly ’twas a bashful art, That I might rather feel than see the swelling of her heart. I calmed her fears, and she was calm, and told her love with virgin
pride, And so I won my Genevieve,—my bright and beauteous bride!
The following playful lines were recently found on the back of one of the manuscripts of Coleridge :
Love's Burial-place : a Madrigal.
Lady. If Love be dead—and you aver it !)
Tell me, Bard, where Love lies buried.
Ah, faithless nymph! think it no scorn,
Coleridge thus condenses Courtship into a couple of stanzas :
We pledged our hearts, my love and I,
I in my arms the maiden clasping ;
But, oh! I trembled like an aspen.
Her father's love she bade me gain ;
I went, but shook like any reed !
We had exchanged our hearts indeed.
EDGAR A. Poe, whose minstrelsy sounds like the “echoes of strange, unearthly music,” is best known by that remarkable production, The Raven, which, like The Ancient Mariner, holds the reader spell-bound by its mystic fascination. His song of Annabel Lee is a general favourite :
It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea,