The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE 1787-1833 Coleridge: Poems Easter Holidays Easter Holidays 1787 Hail festal Easter that dost bring Approach of sweetly-smiling spring, When Nature’s clad in green: When feather’d songsters through the grove With beasts confess the power of love And brighten all the scene. Now youths the breaking stages load That swiftly rattling o’er the road To Greenwich haste away: While some with sounding oars divide Of smoothly-flowing Thames the tide All sing the festive lay. With mirthful dance they beat the ground, Their shouts of joy the hills resound And catch the jocund noise: Without a tear, without a sigh Their moments all in transports fly Till evening ends their joys. But little think their joyous hearts Of dire Misfortune’s varied smarts Which youthful years conceal: Thoughtless of bitter-smiling Woe Which all mankind are born to know And they themselves must feel. Yet he who Wisdom’s paths shall keep And Virtue firm that scorns to weep At ills in Fortune’s power, Through this life’s variegated scene In raging storms or calm serene Shall cheerful spend the hour. While steady Virtue guides his mind Heav’n-born Content he still shall find That never sheds a tear: Without respect to any tide His hours away in bliss shall glide Like Easter all the year. - 1 -Coleridge: Poems Dura Navis Dura Navis 1787 To tempt the dangerous deep, too venturous youth, Why does thy breast with fondest wishes glow? No tender parent there thy cares shall sooth, No much-lov’d Friend shall share thy every woe. Why does thy mind with hopes delusive burn? Vain are thy Schemes by heated Fancy plann’d: Thy promis’d joy thou’lt see to Sorrow turn Exil’d from Bliss, and from thy native land. Hast thou foreseen the Storm’s impending rage, When to the Clouds the Waves ambitious rise, And seem with Heaven a doubtful war to wage, Whilst total darkness overspreads the skies; Save when the lightnings darting wingéd Fate Quick bursting from the pitchy clouds between In forkéd Terror, and destructive state Shall shew with double gloom the horrid scene? Shalt thou be at this hour from danger free? Perhaps with fearful force some falling Wave Shall wash thee in the wild tempestuous Sea, And in some monster’s belly fix thy grave; Or (woful hap) against some wave-worn rock Which long a Terror to each Bark had stood Shall dash thy mangled limbs with furious shock And stain its craggy sides with human blood. Yet not the Tempest, or the Whirlwind’s roar Equal the horrors of a Naval Fight, When thundering Cannons spread a sea of Gore And varied deaths now fire and now affright: The impatient shout, that longs for closer war, Reaches from either side the distant shores; Whilst frighten’d at His streams ensanguin’d far Loud on his troubled bed huge Ocean roars. What dreadful scenes appear before my eyes Ah see how each with frequent slaughter red, Regardless of his dying fellows’ cries O’er their fresh wounds with impious order tread From the dread place does soft Compassion fly The Furies fell each alter’d breast command; - 2 -Coleridge: Poems Dura Navis Whilst Vengeance drunk with human blood stands by And smiling fires each heart and arms each hand. Should’st thou escape the fury of that day A fate more cruel still, unhappy, view. Opposing winds may stop thy luckless way, And spread fell famine through the suffering crew, Canst thou endure th’ extreme of raging Thirst Which soon may scorch thy throat, ah thoughtless Youth Or ravening hunger canst thou bear which erst On its own flesh hath fix’d the deadly tooth? Dubious and fluttering ’twixt hope and fear With trembling hands the lot I see thee draw, Which shall, or sentence thee a victim drear, To that ghaunt Plague which savage knows no law: Or, deep thy dagger in the friendly heart, Whilst each strong passion agitates thy breast, Though oft with Horror back I see thee start, Lo Hunger drives thee to th’ inhuman feast. These are the ills, that may the course attend Then with the joys of home contented rest — Here, meek-eyed Peace with humble Plenty lend Their aid united still, to make thee blest. To ease each pain, and to increase each joy — Here mutual Love shall fix thy tender wife, Whose offspring shall thy youthful care employ And gild with brightest rays the evening of thy Life. - 3 -Coleridge: Poems Nil Pejus est Caelibe Vitæ Nil Pejus est Caelibe Vitæ 1787 in Christ’s Hospital book What pleasures shall he ever find? What joys shall ever glad his heart? Or who shall heal his wounded mind, If tortur’d by Misfortune’s smart? Who Hymeneal bliss will never prove, That more than friendship, friendship mix’d with love. Then without child or tender wife, To drive away each care, each sigh, Lonely he treads the paths of life A stranger to Affection’s tye: And when from Death he meets his final doom No mourning wife with tears of love shall wet his tomb. Tho’ Fortune, Riches, Honours, Pow’r, Had giv’n with every other toy, Those gilded trifles of the hour, Those painted nothings sure to cloy: He dies forgot, his name no son shall bear To shew the man so blest once breath’d the vital air. - 4 -Coleridge: Poems Sonnet to the Autumnal Moon Sonnet to the Autumnal Moon 1788 Mild Splendour of the various-vested Night Mother of wildly-working visions hail I watch thy gliding, while with watery light Thy weak eye glimmers through a fleecy veil; And when thou lovest thy pale orb to shroud Behind the gather’d blackness lost on high; And when thou dartest from the wind-rent cloud Thy placid lightning o’er the awaken’d sky. Ah such is Hope as changeful and as fair Now dimly peering on the wistful sight; Now hid behind the dragon-wing’d Despair: But soon emerging in her radiant might She o’er the sorrow-clouded breast of Care Sails, like a meteor kindling in its flight. - 5 -Coleridge: Poems Anthem for the Children of Christ’s Hospital Anthem for the Children of Christ’s Hospital 1789 Seraphs around th’ Eternal’s seat who throng With tuneful ecstasies of praise: O teach our feeble tongues like yours the song Of fervent gratitude to raise — Like you, inspired with holy flame To dwell on that Almighty name Who bade the child of Woe no longer sigh, And Joy in tears o’erspread the widow’s eye. Th’ all-gracious Parent hears the wretch’s prayer; The meek tear strongly pleads on high; Wan Resignation struggling with despair The Lord beholds with pitying eye; Sees cheerless Want unpitied pine, Disease on earth its head recline, And bids Compassion seek the realms of woe To heal the wounded, and to raise the low. She comes she comes the meek-eyed Power I see With liberal hand that loves to bless; The clouds of Sorrow at her presence flee; Rejoice rejoice ye Children of Distress The beams that play around her head Thro’ Want’s dark vale their radiance spread: The young uncultur’d mind imbibes the ray, And Vice reluctant quits th’ expected prey. Cease, thou lorn mother cease thy wailings drear; Ye babes the unconscious sob forego; Or let full Gratitude now prompt the tear Which erst did Sorrow force to flow. Unkindly cold and tempest shrill In Life’s morn oft the traveller chill, But soon his path the sun of Love shall warm; And each glad scene look brighter for the storm - 6 -Coleridge: Poems Julia Julia 1789 in Christ’s Hospital book Medio de fonte leporum Surgit amari aliquid. Julia was blest with beauty, wit, and grace: Small poets lov’d to sing her blooming face. Before her altars, lo a numerous train Preferr’d their vows; yet all preferr’d in vain, Till charming Florio, born to conquer, came And touch’d the fair one with an equal flame. The flame she felt, and ill could she conceal What every look and action would reveal. With boldness then, which seldom fails to move, He pleads the cause of Marriage and of Love: The course of Hymeneal joys he rounds, The fair one’s eyes danc’d pleasure at the sounds. Nought now remain’d but ‘‘Noes’’ — how little meant And the sweet coyness that endears consent. The youth upon his knees enraptur’d fell: The strange misfortune, oh what words can tell? Tell ye neglected sylphs who lap-dogs guard, Why snatch’d ye not away your precious ward? Why suffer’d ye the lover’s weight to fall On the ill-fated neck of much-lov’d Ball? The favourite on his mistress casts his eyes, Gives a short melancholy howl, and — dies. Sacred his ashes lie, and long his rest Anger and grief divide poor Julia’s breast. Her eyes she fixt on guilty Florio first: On him the storm of angry grief must burst. That storm he fled: he wooes a kinder fair, Whose fond affections no dear puppies share. ’Twere vain to tell, how Julia pin’d away: Unhappy Fair that in one luckless day — From future Almanacks the day be crost — At once her Lover and her Lap-dog lost. - 7 -Coleridge: Poems Quae Nocent Docent Quae Nocent Docent 1789 in Christ’s Hospital book O mihi praeteritos referat si Jupiter annos Oh might my ill-past hours return again No more, as then, should Sloth around me throw Her soul-enslaving, leaden chain No more the precious time would I employ In giddy revels, or in thoughtless joy, A present joy producing future woe. But o’er the midnight Lamp I’d love to pore, I’d seek with care fair Learning’s depths to sound, And gather scientific Lore: Or to mature the embryo thoughts inclin’d, That half-conceiv’d lay struggling in my mind, The cloisters’ solitary gloom I’d round. ’Tis vain to wish, for Time has ta’en his flight — For follies past be ceas’d the fruitless tears: Let follies past to future care incite. Averse maturer judgements to obey Youth owns, with pleasure owns, the Passions’ sway, But sage Experience only comes with years. - 8 -Coleridge: Poems The Nose The Nose 1789 Ye souls unus’d to lofty verse Who sweep the earth with lowly wing, Like sand before the blast disperse — A Nose a mighty Nose I sing As erst Prometheus stole from heaven the fire To animate the wonder of his hand; Thus with unhallow’d hands, O Muse, aspire, And from my subject snatch a burning brand So like the Nose I sing — my verse shall glow — Like Phlegethon my verse in waves of fire shall flow Light of this once all darksome spot Where now their glad course mortals run, First-born of Sirius begot Upon the focus of the Sun — I’ll call thee — for such thy earthly name — What name so high, but what too low must be? Comets, when most they drink the solar flame Are but faint types and images of thee Burn madly, Fire o’er earth in ravage run, 1 Then blush for shame more red by fiercer — outdone I saw when from the turtle feast The thick dark smoke in volumes rose I saw the darkness of the mist Encircle thee, O Nose Shorn of thy rays thou shott’st a fearful gleam (The turtle quiver’d with prophetic fright) Gloomy and sullen thro’ the night of steam: — So Satan’s Nose when Dunstan urg’d to flight, Glowing from gripe of red-hot pincers dread Athwart the smokes of Hell disastrous twilight shed The Furies to madness my brain devote — In robes of ice my body wrap On billowy flames of fire I float, Hear ye my entrails how they snap? Some power unseen forbids my lungs to breathe What fire-clad meteors round me whizzing fly I vitrify thy torrid zone beneath, Proboscis fierce I am calcined I die - 9 -Coleridge: Poems The Nose Thus, like great Pliny, in Vesuvius’ fire, I perish in the blaze while I the blaze admire. 1 by fiercer Gill outdone. MS - 10 -Coleridge: Poems To the Muse To the Muse 1789 Tho’ no bold flights to thee belong; And tho’ thy lays with conscious fear, Shrink from Judgement’s eye severe, Yet much I thank thee, Spirit of my song For, lovely Muse thy sweet employ Exalts my soul, refines my breast, Gives each pure pleasure keener zest, And softens sorrow into pensive Joy. From thee I learn’d the wish to bless, From thee to commune with my heart; From thee, dear Muse the gayer part, To laugh with pity at the crowds that press Where Fashion flaunts her robes by Folly spun, Whose hues gay-varying wanton in the sun. - 11 -Coleridge: Poems Destruction of the Bastile Destruction of the Bastile ?1789 Heard’st thou yon universal cry, And dost thou linger still on Gallia’s shore? Go, Tyranny beneath some barbarous sky Thy terrors lost and ruin’d power deplore What tho’ through many a groaning age Was felt thy keen suspicious rage, Yet Freedom rous’d by fierce Disdain Has wildly broke thy triple chain, And like the storm which Earth’s deep entrails hide, At length has burst its way and spread the ruins wide. 1 In sighs their sickly breath was spent; each gleam Of Hope had ceas’d the long long day to cheer; Or if delusive, in some flitting dream, It gave them to their friends and children dear — Awaked by lordly Insult’s sound To all the doubled horrors round, Oft shrunk they from Oppression’s band While Anguish rais’d the desperate hand For silent death; or lost the mind’s controll, Thro’ every burning vein would tides of Frenzy roll. But cease, ye pitying bosoms, cease to bleed Such scenes no more demand the tear humane; I see, I see glad Liberty succeed With every patriot virtue in her train And mark yon peasant’s raptur’d eyes; Secure he views his harvests rise; No fetter vile the mind shall know, And Eloquence shall fearless glow. Yes Liberty the soul of Life shall reign, Shall throb in every pulse, shall flow thro’ every vein Shall France alone a Despot spurn? Shall she alone, O Freedom, boast thy care? Lo, round thy standard Belgia’s heroes burn, Tho’ Power’s blood-stain’d streamers fire the air, And wider yet thy influence spread, Nor e’er recline thy weary head, Till every land from pole to pole - 12 -Coleridge: Poems Destruction of the Bastile Shall boast one independent soul And still, as erst, let favour’d Britain be First ever of the first and freest of the free 1 Stanzas second and third are lost. We may gather from the context that they alluded to the Bastile and its inhabitants. - 13 -Coleridge: Poems Life Life 1789 As late I journeyed o’er the extensive plain Where native Otter sports his scanty stream, Musing in torpid woe a Sister’s pain, The glorious prospect woke me from the dream. At every step it widen’d to my sight — Wood, Meadow, verdant Hill, and dreary Steep, Following in quick succession of delight, — Till all — at once — did my eye ravish’d sweep May this (I cried) my course through Life portray New scenes of Wisdom may each step display, And Knowledge open as my days advance Till what time Death shall pour the undarken’d ray, My eye shall dart thro’ infinite expanse, And thought suspended lie in Rapture’s blissful trance. - 14 -Coleridge: Poems Progress of Vice Progress of Vice 1790 Nemo repente turpissimus Deep in the gulph of Vice and Woe Leaps Man at once with headlong throw? Him inborn Truth and Virtue guide, Whose guards are Shame and conscious Pride. In some gay hour Vice steals into the breast; Perchance she wears some softer Virtue’s vest. By unperceiv’d degrees she tempts to stray, Till far from Virtue’s path she leads the feet away. Then swift the soul to disenthrall Will Memory the past recall, And Fear before the Victim’s eyes Bid future ills and dangers rise. But hark the Voice, the Lyre, their charms combine — Gay sparkles in the cup the generous Wine — Th’ inebriate dance, the fair frail Nymph inspires, And Virtue vanquish’d — scorn’d — with hasty flight retires. But soon to tempt the Pleasures cease; Yet Shame forbids return to peace. And stern Necessity will force Still to urge on the desperate course. The drear black paths of Vice the wretch must try, Where Conscience flashes horror on each eye, Where Hate — where Murder scowl — where starts Affright Ah close the scene — ah close — for dreadful is the sight. - 15 -Coleridge: Poems Monody on the Death of Chatterton Monody on the Death of Chatterton 1790 first version, in Christ’s Hospital book — 1790 Cold penury repress’d his noble rage, And froze the genial current of his soul. Now prompts the Muse poetic lays, And high my bosom beats with love of Praise But Chatterton methinks I hear thy name, For cold my Fancy grows, and dead each Hope of Fame. When Want and cold Neglect had chill’d thy soul, Athirst for Death I see thee drench the bowl Thy corpse of many a livid hue On the bare ground I view, Whilst various passions all my mind engage; Now is my breast distended with a sigh, And now a flash of Rage Darts through the tear, that glistens in my eye. Is this the land of liberal Hearts Is this the land, where Genius ne’er in vain Pour’d forth her soul-enchanting strain? Ah me yet Butler ’gainst the bigot foe Well-skill’d to aim keen Humour’s dart, Yet Butler felt Want’s poignant sting; And Otway, Master of the Tragic art, Whom Pity’s self had taught to sing, Sank beneath a load of Woe; This ever can the generous Briton hear, And starts not in his eye th’ indignant Tear? Elate of Heart and confident of Fame, From vales where Avon sports, the Minstrel came, Gay as the Poet hastes along He meditates the future song, How ælla battled with his country’s foes, And whilst Fancy in the air Paints him many a vision fair His eyes dance rapture and his bosom glows. With generous joy he views th’ ideal gold: He listens to many a Widow’s prayers, And many an Orphan’s thanks he hears; He soothes to peace the care-worn breast, - 16 -Coleridge: Poems Monody on the Death of Chatterton He bids the Debtor’s eyes know rest, And Liberty and Bliss behold: And now he punishes the heart of steel, And her own iron rod he makes Oppression feel. Fated to heave sad Disappointment’s sigh, To feel the Hope now rais’d, and now deprest, To feel the burnings of an injur’d breast, From all thy Fate’s deep sorrow keen In vain, O Youth, I turn th’ affrighted eye; For powerful Fancy evernigh The hateful picture forces on my sight. There, Death of every dear delight, Frowns Poverty of Giant mien In vain I seek the charms of youthful grace, Thy sunken eye, thy haggard cheeks it shews, The quick emotions struggling in the Face Faint index of thy mental Throes, When each strong Passion spurn’d controll, And not a Friend was nigh to calm thy stormy soul. Such was the sad and gloomy hour When anguish’d Care of sullen brow Prepared the Poison’s death-cold power. Already to thy lips was rais’d the bowl, When filial Pity stood thee by, Thy fixéd eyes she bade thee roll On scenes that well might melt thy soul — Thy native cot she held to view, Thy native cot, where Peace ere long Had listen’d to thy evening song; Thy sister’s shrieks she bade thee hear, And mark thy mother’s thrilling tear, She made thee feel her deep-drawn sigh, And all her silent agony of Woe. And from thy Fate shall such distress ensue? Ah dash the poison’d chalice from thy hand And thou had’st dash’d it at her soft command; But that Despair and Indignation rose, And told again the story of thy Woes, Told the keen insult of th’ unfeeling Heart, The dread dependence on the low-born mind, Told every Woe, for which thy breast might smart, Neglect and grinning scorn and Want combin’d — Recoiling back, thou sent’st the friend of Pain To roll a tide of Death thro’ every freezing vein. - 17 -Coleridge: Poems Monody on the Death of Chatterton O Spirit blest Whether th’ eternal Throne around, Amidst the blaze of Cherubim, Thou pourest forth the grateful hymn, Or, soaring through the blest Domain, Enraptur’st Angels with thy strain, — Grant me, like thee, the lyre to sound, Like thee, with fire divine to glow — But ah when rage the Waves of Woe, Grant me with firmer breast t’oppose their hate, And soar beyond the storms with upright eye elate - 18 -Coleridge: Poems An Invocation An Invocation 1790 Sweet Muse companion of my every hour Voice of my Joy Sure soother of the sigh Now plume thy pinions, now exert each power, And fly to him who owns the candid eye. And if a smile of Praise thy labour hail (Well shall thy labours then my mind employ) Fly fleetly back, sweet Muse and with the tale O’erspread my Features with a flush of Joy - 19 -