'To William Wordsworth' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Friend of the Wise ! and Teacher of the Good !
Into my heart have I received that Lay
More than historic, that prophetic Lay
Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright)
Of the foundations and the building up
Of a Human Spirit thou hast dared to tell
What may be told, to the understanding mind
Revealable ; and what within the mind
By vital breathings secret as the soul
Of vernal growth, oft quickens in the heart
Thoughts all too deep for words !--

Theme hard as high !
Of smiles spontaneous, and mysterious fears
(The first-born they of Reason and twin-birth),
Of tides obedient to external force,
And currents self-determined, as might seem,
Or by some inner Power ; of moments awful,
Now in thy inner life, and now abroad,
When power streamed from thee, and thy soul received
The light reflected, as a light bestowed--
Of fancies fair, and milder hours of youth,
Hyblean murmurs of poetic thought
Industrious in its joy, in vales and glens
Native or outland, lakes and famous hills !
Or on the lonely high-road, when the stars
Were rising ; or by secret mountain-streams,
The guides and the companions of thy way !

Of more than Fancy, of the Social Sense
Distending wide, and man beloved as man,
Where France in all her towns lay vibrating
Like some becalméd bark beneath the burst
Of Heaven's immediate thunder, when no cloud
Is visible, or shadow on the main.
For thou wert there, thine own brows garlanded,
Amid the tremor of a realm aglow,
Amid the mighty nation jubilant,
When from the general heart of human kind
Hope sprang forth like a full-born Diety !
--Of that dear Hope afflicted and struck down,
So summoned homeward, thenceforth calm and sure
From the dread watch-tower of man's absolute self,
With light unwaning on her eyes, to look
Far on--herself a glory to behold,
The Angel of the vision ! Then (last strain)
Of Duty, chosen Laws controlling choice,
Action and Joy !--An Orphic song indeed,
A song divine of high and passionate thoughts
To their own music chaunted !

O great Bard !
Ere yet that last strain dying awed the air,
With stedfast eye I viewed thee in the choir
Of ever-enduring men. The truly great
Have all one age, and from one visible space
Shed influence ! They, both in power and act,
Are permanent, and Time is not with them,
Save as it worketh for them, they in it.
Nor less a sacred Roll, than those of old,
And to be placed, as they, with gradual fame
Among the archives of mankind, thy work
Makes audible a linkéd lay of Truth,
Of Truth profound a sweet continuous lay,
Not learnt, but native, her own natural notes !
Ah ! as I listened with a heart forlorn,
The pulses of my being beat anew :
And even as Life returns upon the drowned,
Life's joy rekindling roused a throng of pains--
Keen pangs of Love, awakening as a babe
Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart ;
And Fears self-willed, that shunned the eye of Hope ;
And Hope that scarce would know itself from Fear ;
Sense of past Youth, and Manhood come in vain,
And Genius given, and Knowledge won in vain ;
And all which I had culled in wood-walks wild,
And all which patient toil had reared, and all,
Commune with thee had opened out--but flowers
Strewed on my corse, and borne upon my bier,
In the same coffin, for the self-same grave !

That way no more ! and ill beseems it me,
Who came a welcomer in herald's guise,
Singing of Glory, and Futurity,
To wander back on such unhealthful road,
Plucking the poisons of self-harm ! And ill
Such intertwine beseems triumphal wreaths
Strew'd before thy advancing !

Nor do thou,
Sage Bard ! impair the memory of that hour
Of thy communion with my nobler mind
By pity or grief, already felt too long !
Nor let my words import more blame than needs.
The tumult rose and ceased : for Peace is nigh
Where Wisdom's voice has found a listening heart.
Amid the howl of more than wintry storms,
The Halcyon hears the voice of vernal hours
Already on the wing.

Eve following eve,
Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home
Is sweetest ! moments for their own sake hailed
And more desired, more precious, for thy song,
In silence listening, like a devout child,
My soul lay passive, by thy various strain
Driven as in surges now beneath the stars,
With momentary stars of my own birth,
Fair constellated foam, still darting off
Into the darkness ; now a tranquil sea,
Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the moon.

And when--O Friend ! my comforter and guide !
Strong in thyself, and powerful to give strength !--
Thy long sustainéd Song finally closed,
And thy deep voice had ceased--yet thou thyself
Wert still before my eyes, and round us both
That happy vision of belovéd faces--
Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its close
I sate, my being blended in one thought
(Thought was it ? or aspiration ? or resolve ?)
Absorbed, yet hanging still upon the sound--
And when I rose, I found myself in prayer.

Editor 1 Interpretation

To William Wordsworth

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Have you ever read a poem that left you in awe? A poem that made you question everything you thought you knew about life and the world around you? That is the kind of poem that Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “To William Wordsworth” is. This classic piece of poetry is a masterpiece that deserves to be studied and analyzed in detail.

At its core, “To William Wordsworth” is a tribute to Coleridge’s close friend and fellow poet, William Wordsworth. The poem is a reflection on the nature of poetry and the role it plays in our lives. It is also a meditation on the power of language and the importance of art in our society.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with a different focus. In the first stanza, Coleridge addresses Wordsworth directly, telling him that his poetry has touched him deeply and praising his ability to capture the beauty of nature. He describes Wordsworth’s poetry as “a joy, a love, a spirit that inspires” and compares it to the “eternal language” of nature itself.

In the second stanza, Coleridge reflects on the nature of poetry and its purpose in our lives. He argues that poetry is not just a form of entertainment or a way to pass the time, but rather a vital part of our humanity. He states that poetry has the power to “make our bodies feel / The touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.” In other words, poetry has the ability to connect us to the past and to those who have gone before us.

The third and final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. In it, Coleridge speaks directly to Wordsworth’s poetry, telling it that it has the power to change the world. He describes it as a “truth that wakes, / To perish never” and “a light that never was on sea or land.” He argues that Wordsworth’s poetry is not just a reflection of the world, but rather a force that can transform it.

One of the most striking things about “To William Wordsworth” is the way that it weaves together different themes and ideas. On the one hand, the poem is a celebration of Wordsworth’s poetry and its ability to capture the beauty of nature. On the other hand, it is a meditation on the nature of poetry itself and what it means to us as human beings. It is also a call to action, urging us to recognize the power of art and to use it to create a better world.

Another key feature of the poem is its use of language. Coleridge was a master of language, and his poetic style is both beautiful and complex. He uses a variety of techniques, such as alliteration, repetition, and imagery, to create a rich and powerful piece of poetry. For example, in the first stanza, he uses alliteration to create a sense of rhythm and flow: “In truth, dear Friend, / And thy meek genius, / Was a precious balm to me.”

In conclusion, “To William Wordsworth” is a masterpiece of poetry that deserves to be studied and analyzed in detail. It is a powerful meditation on the nature of poetry and its role in our lives, as well as a celebration of the beauty of nature and the power of art. Coleridge’s use of language is masterful, and the poem is a testament to his skill as a poet. If you have not had the chance to read this poem, I highly recommend that you do so. It is a work of art that will leave you in awe.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To William Wordsworth: A Masterpiece of Romanticism

As a lover of poetry, I have always been fascinated by the works of the Romantic poets. Among them, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge stand out as two of the most influential figures of the movement. Their friendship and collaboration resulted in some of the most memorable poems of the era, including the masterpiece "Poetry To William Wordsworth" by Coleridge.

In this essay, I will provide a detailed analysis and explanation of this poem, exploring its themes, structure, language, and historical context. I will argue that "Poetry To William Wordsworth" is a powerful expression of the Romantic ideals of imagination, nature, and the creative process, as well as a tribute to the friendship and artistic partnership between two great poets.

The poem begins with a direct address to Wordsworth, who is described as "dear friend" and "poet of Nature." This opening establishes the personal and intimate tone of the poem, as well as the admiration and respect that Coleridge feels for his fellow poet. It also sets the stage for the main theme of the poem, which is the power of poetry to capture and express the beauty and mystery of the natural world.

The first stanza of the poem describes the experience of reading Wordsworth's poetry, which is compared to a "deep river" that flows through the reader's mind and soul. This metaphor suggests that Wordsworth's poetry is not only beautiful and inspiring, but also profound and transformative, capable of stirring the deepest emotions and thoughts of the reader. The river imagery also evokes the Romantic ideal of nature as a source of spiritual and creative renewal, a theme that will be developed further in the poem.

The second stanza of the poem shifts the focus to Coleridge's own experience of writing poetry. He describes himself as a "wayward boy" who is struggling to find his own voice and style. This self-deprecating tone is typical of Coleridge's poetry, which often reflects his insecurities and doubts as a writer. However, the stanza also reveals the importance of Wordsworth's influence on Coleridge's development as a poet. He describes how Wordsworth's poetry has "taught me to love" and "to feel the charm of song." This suggests that Wordsworth has not only inspired Coleridge's imagination, but also helped him to discover his own poetic voice and vision.

The third stanza of the poem returns to the theme of nature, which is now described as a "mighty world of eye and ear." This phrase captures the Romantic idea that nature is not only a physical reality, but also a spiritual and aesthetic one, capable of evoking a range of sensory and emotional responses. Coleridge goes on to describe how poetry can capture and express this world of nature, using vivid and imaginative language that "gives a tongue to every dumb thing." This idea of poetry as a means of giving voice to the natural world is a central theme of Romanticism, and is closely linked to the idea of the poet as a visionary and prophet.

The fourth stanza of the poem explores the relationship between poetry and the creative process. Coleridge describes how the act of writing poetry is both a joy and a struggle, a process of "painful joy" that requires both inspiration and discipline. He also suggests that poetry is not simply a matter of personal expression, but also a form of communication and connection with others. He writes, "And oft, when on my couch I lie/ In vacant or in pensive mood/ They [the poems] flash upon that inward eye/ Which is the bliss of solitude." This idea of poetry as a means of connecting with others, even in moments of solitude, is another key theme of Romanticism.

The fifth and final stanza of the poem returns to the theme of friendship and collaboration between Coleridge and Wordsworth. Coleridge describes how their shared love of poetry has brought them together, and how their friendship has been strengthened by their mutual admiration and respect. He writes, "With him conversing I forget all time/ All seasons and their change." This suggests that the act of writing and talking about poetry is not only a creative and intellectual pursuit, but also a source of emotional and spiritual connection between friends.

In terms of structure, "Poetry To William Wordsworth" is a five-stanza poem with a regular rhyme scheme (ABABCC). This structure gives the poem a sense of balance and harmony, and allows Coleridge to develop his themes in a clear and coherent way. The language of the poem is also notable for its simplicity and clarity, which reflects the Romantic ideal of poetry as a natural and spontaneous expression of feeling and imagination.

In terms of historical context, "Poetry To William Wordsworth" was written in the early years of the Romantic movement, when Wordsworth and Coleridge were collaborating on their famous collection of poems, Lyrical Ballads. This collection, which was published in 1798, is considered a landmark in the history of English literature, as it marked a shift away from the formal and artificial style of the previous century, and towards a more natural and authentic mode of expression. The themes and ideas of "Poetry To William Wordsworth" are therefore closely linked to the broader cultural and intellectual context of Romanticism, which was characterized by a renewed interest in nature, imagination, and individualism.

In conclusion, "Poetry To William Wordsworth" is a masterpiece of Romantic poetry, which captures the essence of the movement's ideals and themes. Through its vivid imagery, simple language, and personal tone, the poem expresses the power of poetry to capture and express the beauty and mystery of the natural world, as well as the importance of friendship and collaboration in the creative process. As a tribute to the friendship and artistic partnership between two great poets, the poem stands as a testament to the enduring power of poetry to inspire and transform the human spirit.

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