Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Here you will find the Long Poem Dejection: An Ode of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Dejection: An Ode

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


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 !


 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 !


 [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.


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 !


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.


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 that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.


Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind,
 [Image]Reality's dark dream !
I turn from you, and listen to the wind,
 Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream
Of agony by torture lengthened out
That lute sent forth ! Thou Wind, that rav'st without,
 Bare crag, or mountain-tairn, or blasted tree,
Or pine-grove whither