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Dejection: An Ode

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 (Ottery St Mary) – 1834 (Highgate)

Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon,
  With the old Moon in her arms ;
  And I fear, I fear, My Master dear !
  We shall have a deadly storm.

Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence
--------------------------------------- ------------------------------------

I
 
Well ! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
  The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
  This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes
Upon the strings of this Æolian lute,
  [Image]Which better far were mute.
  For lo ! the New-moon winter-bright !
  And overspread with phantom light,
  (With swimming phantom light o'erspread
  But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
  The coming-on of rain and squally blast.
And oh ! that even now the gust were swelling,
  And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast !
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed,
  [Image]And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and live !

II

  A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
  A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
  Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
  [Image]In word, or sigh, or tear--
  O Lady ! in this wan and heartless mood,
  To other thoughts by yonder throstle woo'd,
  All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
  Have I been gazing on the western sky,
  And its peculiar tint of yellow green :
  And still I gaze--and with how blank an eye !
  And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
  That give away their motion to the stars ;
  Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
  Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen :
  Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
  In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue ;
  I see them all so excellently fair,
  I see, not feel, how beautiful they are !

III

  [Image]My genial spirits fail ;
  [Image]And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast ?
  [Image]It were a vain endeavour,
  [Image]Though I should gaze for ever
On that green light that lingers in the west :
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

IV

O Lady ! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does Nature live :
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud !
  And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd,
  Ah ! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
  [Image]Enveloping the Earth--
And from the soul itself must there be sent
  A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element !

V

O pure of heart ! thou need'st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be !
What, and wherein it doth exist,
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
  Joy, virtuous Lady ! Joy that ne'er was given,
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,
Life, and Life's effluence, cloud at once and shower,
Joy, Lady ! is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower
  A new Earth and new Heaven,
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud--
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud--
  [Image]We in ourselves rejoice !
And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight,
  All melodies the echoes of that voice,
All colours a suffusion from that light.

VI

There was a time when, though my path was rough,
  This joy within me dallied with distress,
And all misfortunes were but as the stuff
  Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness :
For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth :
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth ;
  [Image]But oh ! each visitation
Suspends what nature gave me at my birth,
  My shaping spirit of Imagination.
For not to think of what I needs must feel,
  But to be still and patient, all I can ;
And haply by abstruse research to steal
  From my own nature all the natural man--
  This was my sole resource, my only plan :
Till
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. more…

All Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems | Samuel Taylor Coleridge Books

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