Friday, June 09, 2006
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud--and hark, again ! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings : save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.

'Tis calm indeed ! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village ! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams ! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not ;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.
But O ! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come !
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams !
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book :
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike !

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought !
My babe so beautiful ! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes ! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

---S. T. Coleridge

I hope that my son shares his father's love (and his grandfather's love, and his great-grandfather's love) for poetry.

Having grown up in a fairly legalistic pentecostal denomination, enjoying something "worldly" (you have to say it with with a slightly curled lip and faintest tone of derision) like the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge was mostly frowned upon. "You could be spending that time reading the Bible instead of reading those pagans," or something like that.

Thankfully, the Lutheran idea of the Two Kingdoms not only allows us to enjoy Coleridge, Wordsworth and other things, but actually encourages it. "The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it!"

I will teach my son to love the Lord God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, and his neighbor as himself. I will also teach him (I hope) to love Coleridge.
posted by Kepler at 18:27 |


At 6/10/2006 02:03:00 AM, Blogger solarblogger

I remember that one. You introduced me to it.

The love skipped a generation in my family. My dad is not into poetry. But I did inherit my grandfather's copy of Longfellow's Poems.

Right before jumping online, I was rereading Plato's Ion, where a Homeric reciter discussed his art. (Or should I say Socrates teased him about the nature of his art, to elucidate the categories.)


At 6/10/2006 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Kepler

I'm planning on reading the Aeneid to Eli, as soon as I find my copy...

I still remember being 6 years old, and my younger brother (who was an infant) was terribly colicky, and my Dad walked him all over the house reading Psalms to him. (I'm pretty sure he avoided the impreccatory sections....)


At 6/12/2006 02:03:00 AM, Blogger solarblogger

You told me that story before. In fact, I thought of it when I read your post.

I just picked up the Aeneid a few months back. I had it at UCI, but I wanted Fitzgerald, as 1) I LOVED Fitzgerald's Odyssey, and 2) in an article in the American Scholar on what soldiers are reading in Iraq, Fitzgerald's Aeneid was listed as a book worth reading through the night.


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