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The Improvisatore

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

Scene--A spacious drawing-room, with music-room adjoining.

Katharine. What are the words ?

Eliza. Ask our friend, the Improvisatore ; here he comes. Kate has a favour
to ask of you, Sir ; it is that you will repeat the ballad [Believe me if
all those endearing young charms.--EHC's ? note] that Mr. ____ sang so

  Friend. It is in Moore's Irish Melodies ; but I do not recollect the
  words distinctly. The moral of them, however, I take to be this :--

  Love would remain the same if true,
  When we were neither young nor new ;
  Yea, and in all within the will that came,
  By the same proofs would show itself the same.

Eliza. What are the lines you repeated from Beaumont and Fletcher, which my
mother admired so much ? It begins with something about two vines so close
that their tendrils intermingle.

  Friend. You mean Charles' speech to Angelina, in The Elder Brother.

  We'll live together, like two neighbour vines,
  Circling our souls and loves in one another !
  We'll spring together, and we'll bear one fruit ;
  One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn ;
  One age go with us, and one hour of death
  Shall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy.

Katharine. A precious boon, that would go far to reconcile one to old
age--this love--if true ! But is there any such true love ?

  Friend. I hope so.

Katharine. But do you believe it ?

Eliza (eagerly). I am sure he does.

  Friend. From a man turned of fifty, Katharine, I imagine, expects a
  less confident answer.

Katharine. A more sincere one, perhaps.

  Friend. Even though he should have obtained the nick-name of
  Improvisatore, by perpetrating charades and extempore verses at
  Christmas times ?

Eliza. Nay, but be serious.

  Friend. Serious ! Doubtless. A grave personage of my years giving a
  Love-lecture to two young ladies, cannot well be otherwise. The
  difficulty, I suspect, would be for them to remain so. It will be
  asked whether I am not the `elderly gentleman' who sate `despairing
  beside a clear stream', with a willow for his wig-block.

Eliza. Say another word, and we will call it downright affectation.

Katharine. No ! we will be affronted, drop a courtesy, and ask pardon for
our presumption in expecting that Mr. ___ would waste his sense on two
insignificant girls.

  Friend. Well, well, I will be serious. Hem ! Now then commences the
  discourse ; Mr. Moore's song being the text. Love, as distinguished
  from Friendship, on the one hand, and from the passion that too often
  usurps its name, on the other--

Lucius (Eliza's brother, who had just joined the trio, in a whisper to the
Friend). But is not Love the union of both ?

  Friend (aside to Lucius). He never loved who thinks so.

Eliza. Brother, we don't want you. There ! Mrs. H. cannot arrange the
flower vase without you. Thank you, Mrs. Hartman.

Lucius. I'll have my revenge ! I know what I will say !

Eliza. Off ! Off ! Now, dear Sir,--Love, you were saying--

  Friend. Hush ! Preaching, you mean, Eliza.

Eliza (impatiently). Pshaw !

  Friend. Well then, I was saying that Love, truly such, is itself not
  the most common thing in the world : and that mutual love still less
  so. But that enduring personal attachment, so beautifully delineated
  by Erin's sweet melodist, and still more touchingly, perhaps, in the
  well-known ballad, `John Anderson, my Jo, John,' in addition to a
  depth and constancy of character of no every-day occurrence, supposes
  a peculiar sensibility and tenderness of nature ; a constitutional
  communicativeness and utterancy of heart and soul ; a delight in the
  detail of sympathy, in the outward and visible signs of the sacrament
  within--to count, as it were, the pulses of the life of love. But
  above all, it supposes a soul which, even in the pride and summer-tide
  of life--even in the lustihood of health and strength, had felt
  oftenest and prized highest that which age cannot take away and which,
  in all our lovings, is the Love ;----

Eliza. There is something here (pointing to her heart) that seems to
understand you, but wants the word that would make it understand itself.

Katharine. I, too, seem to feel what you mean. Interpret the feeling for

  Friend. ---- I mean that willing sense of the insufficingness of the
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:37 min read

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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    "The Improvisatore" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/34350/the-improvisatore>.

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