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Human Life

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

If dead, we cease to be ; if total gloom
  Swallow up life's brief flash for aye, we fare
As summer-gusts, of sudden birth and doom,
  Whose sound and motion not alone declare,
But are their whole of being ! If the breath
  Be Life itself, and not its task and tent,
If even a soul like Milton's can know death ;
  O Man ! thou vessel purposeless, unmeant,
Yet drone-hive strange of phantom purposes !
  Surplus of Nature's dread activity,
Which, as she gazed on some nigh-finished vase,
Retreating slow, with meditative pause,
  She formed with restless hands unconsciously.
Blank accident ! nothing's anomaly !
  If rootless thus, thus substanceless thy state,
Go, weigh thy dreams, and be thy hopes, thy fears,
The counter-weights !--Thy laughter and thy tears
  Mean but themselves, each fittest to create
And to repay the other ! Why rejoices
  Thy heart with hollow joy for hollow good ?
  Why cowl thy face beneath the mourner's hood ?
Why waste thy sighs, and thy lamenting voices,
  Image of Image, Ghost of Ghostly Elf,
That such a thing as thou feel'st warm or cold ?
Yet what and whence thy gain, if thou withhold
  These costless shadows of thy shadowy self ?
Be sad ! be glad ! be neither ! seek, or shun !
Thou hast no reason why ! Thou canst have none ;
Thy being's being is contradiction.

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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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    "Human Life" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/34257/human-life>.

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