'France : An Ode' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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O Liberty ! with profitless endeavour
Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour ;
But thou nor swell'st the victor's strain, nor ever
Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power.
Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee,
(Nor prayer, nor boastful name delays thee)
[Image]Alike from Priestcraft's harpy minions,
And factious Blasphemy's obscener slaves,
Thou speedest on thy subtle pinions,
The guide of homeless winds, and playmate of the waves !
And there I felt thee !--on that sea-cliff's verge,
Whose pines, scarce travelled by the breeze above,
Had made one murmur with the distant surge !
Yes, while I stood and gazed, my temples bare,
And shot my being through earth, sea, and air,
Possessing all things with intensest love,
O Liberty ! my spirit felt thee there.
Editor 1 Interpretation
France : An Ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
France: An Ode, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is a masterpiece of English Romantic poetry. The ode, written during the French Revolution, is a tribute to the French people and their struggle for freedom against tyranny. The poem is a powerful expression of Coleridge's belief in the ideals of the Revolution and his admiration for the French people. With its vivid descriptions, rich imagery, and lyrical language, France: An Ode is a testament to Coleridge's genius as a poet.
Overview of the Poem
The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with a different rhyme scheme. The first stanza, with its ABAB rhyme scheme, introduces the theme of the poem and pays tribute to the French people. The second stanza, with its AABB rhyme scheme, describes the beauty of the French landscape and the courage of the French people. The third stanza, with its ABABCC rhyme scheme, praises the ideals of the Revolution and the sacrifices of the French people. The fourth and final stanza, with its ABCCB rhyme scheme, is a call to arms for the French people to continue their struggle for freedom.
Interpretation of the Poem
At its heart, France: An Ode is a celebration of the French Revolution and the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Coleridge was a strong supporter of the Revolution and believed in the power of the people to overthrow tyranny and establish a just and free society. His admiration for the French people and their struggle for freedom is evident throughout the poem.
In the first stanza, Coleridge pays tribute to the French people, describing them as "the children of the glorious dead" who have "rallied round the new-born Liberty." The use of the word "glorious" to describe the dead suggests that their sacrifice was not in vain, and that their memory lives on in the struggle for freedom. The phrase "new-born Liberty" suggests that the Revolution has given birth to a new era of freedom and justice in France.
In the second stanza, Coleridge describes the beauty of the French landscape and the courage of the French people. He writes:
"O France, beneath thy banners bright
We may not sit and sing of thee!
We may not dare to praise the light
That fills thy hills with liberty!"
The use of the word "bright" to describe the banners suggests that they are a symbol of hope and freedom for the French people. The phrase "fills thy hills with liberty" suggests that the French people have claimed their freedom and are defending it with courage and determination. Coleridge's admiration for the French people is evident in these lines, as is his belief in the power of the Revolution to transform society.
In the third stanza, Coleridge praises the ideals of the Revolution and the sacrifices of the French people. He writes:
"And oh! what thanks, to War and Fate,
Are due from manhood's suffering heart,
When the cannon's lips with league elate
Have framed the slaughterer's murderous part!
What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield."
The use of the words "War and Fate" suggests that the Revolution is a struggle against external and internal forces that seek to destroy the French people's freedom. The phrase "manhood's suffering heart" suggests that the French people have suffered greatly in the struggle for freedom, but that their sacrifice has not been in vain. The use of the word "cannon" suggests that the struggle for freedom has been violent and bloody, but that the French people have persevered in the face of great adversity. The phrase "unconquerable will" suggests that the French people will never give up their struggle for freedom, no matter what the cost.
In the fourth and final stanza, Coleridge calls on the French people to continue their struggle for freedom. He writes:
"But, from the fields of waving corn,
Along the whispering breeze of morn,
Or from the vineyards, hark! the call,
'Freedom and Fatherland!'
As erst when, at her trumpet's sound,
Rich with her thousand battles' fame,
Upon the hills her eagles bound,
And called her children to the name
The use of the phrase "fields of waving corn" suggests that the Revolution is rooted in the land and in the people's connection to the earth. The phrase "whispering breeze of morn" suggests that the Revolution is a quiet and peaceful movement that is carried on by the people's determination and courage. The use of the phrase "Freedom and Fatherland" suggests that the Revolution is a struggle for both individual freedom and national sovereignty. The reference to the eagles suggests that the Revolution is a proud and noble movement that is inspired by the ideals of liberty and justice.
France: An Ode is a powerful expression of Coleridge's admiration for the French people and their struggle for freedom during the Revolution. The poem is a tribute to the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and a call to arms for the French people to continue their struggle for freedom. With its vivid descriptions, rich imagery, and lyrical language, France: An Ode is a masterpiece of English Romantic poetry that continues to inspire people around the world to fight for justice and freedom.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry France: An Ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a masterpiece that captures the essence of the French Revolution and the power of poetry to inspire and transform society. This ode is a celebration of the revolutionary spirit of France and the role of poetry in shaping the destiny of nations. In this article, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this poem and analyze its significance in the context of the Romantic era.
The poem begins with a powerful invocation to the spirit of France, which is personified as a goddess of liberty and revolution. Coleridge addresses her as "Mighty Spirit" and "Daughter of Reason," acknowledging her as the source of inspiration for the poets and thinkers of his time. He praises her for her courage, her passion, and her determination to overthrow tyranny and establish a new order based on freedom and equality.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Coleridge describes the "mighty tumult" of the revolution and the "thundering voice" of the people. He uses vivid imagery to convey the chaos and violence of the revolution, but also the beauty and grandeur of the ideals that inspired it. He speaks of "the blaze of Freedom's torch" and "the lightning of her eye," suggesting that the revolution was not just a political upheaval, but a spiritual awakening that transformed the hearts and minds of the people.
The second stanza shifts the focus to the role of poetry in the revolution. Coleridge argues that poetry is not just a form of entertainment or escapism, but a powerful force for social change. He describes the poet as a "prophet of the heart" who can inspire and guide the people towards a better future. He also emphasizes the importance of language and rhetoric in shaping public opinion and mobilizing the masses. He speaks of "the magic of the tongue" and "the spell of eloquence," suggesting that words have the power to move mountains and change the course of history.
The third stanza is a tribute to the great poets of France, who Coleridge sees as the pioneers of the revolution. He mentions Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot, among others, as the "mighty fathers" of the new age. He praises their courage, their wisdom, and their vision, and suggests that their works will endure as a testament to the power of poetry to inspire and transform society.
The fourth stanza is a call to action, as Coleridge urges his fellow poets to join the revolution and use their talents to promote the cause of freedom and justice. He speaks of "the trumpet of the bard" and "the lyre of fire," suggesting that poetry can be a weapon of war as well as a source of inspiration. He also warns against the dangers of complacency and apathy, urging his fellow poets to be vigilant and proactive in the face of tyranny and oppression.
The fifth and final stanza is a prayer for the success of the revolution and the triumph of liberty. Coleridge invokes the spirit of France once again, asking her to bless the poets and the people with her divine grace. He speaks of "the holy flame" and "the sacred light," suggesting that the revolution is not just a political struggle, but a spiritual quest for truth and justice.
In terms of structure, Poetry France: An Ode is a classic example of Romantic poetry. It is written in irregular stanzas, with varying line lengths and rhyme schemes. This gives the poem a sense of spontaneity and freedom, reflecting the revolutionary spirit that it celebrates. The language is also highly emotive and passionate, with vivid imagery and powerful metaphors that convey the intensity of the poet's feelings.
One of the most striking features of this poem is its use of personification. Coleridge personifies France as a goddess of liberty and revolution, imbuing her with a sense of divine power and authority. This not only adds to the mythic quality of the poem, but also reinforces the idea that the revolution was a spiritual as well as a political movement.
Another notable feature of this poem is its use of allusion. Coleridge references a number of historical and literary figures, from the ancient Greeks to the Enlightenment philosophers. This not only adds depth and richness to the poem, but also suggests that the revolution is part of a larger historical and cultural context.
In conclusion, Poetry France: An Ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a powerful and inspiring tribute to the French Revolution and the role of poetry in shaping the destiny of nations. It celebrates the revolutionary spirit of France, the power of poetry to inspire and transform society, and the importance of language and rhetoric in shaping public opinion. It is a classic example of Romantic poetry, with its irregular structure, emotive language, and use of personification and allusion. Above all, it is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit to overcome oppression and injustice, and to strive for a better world.
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