Moments from Coleridge . . .
Forgive my indulgence if, instead of ‘moments’, I reproduce below five of my all-time favourite lines of poetry,
followed by the first thirty-three lines (such a very special number) of the poem from which they come - ‘The Eolian Harp’ -
one of the most beautifully-musical and musically-beautiful poems of any written by the Romantic poets and capturing, with such exquisite and delicate synaesthesia, that very Romantic theme of ‘unity in diversity’:
And what if all of animated nature
Be but organic Harps diversely fram’d
That tremble into thought, as o’er them sweeps
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
At once the Soul of each, and God of all?
* * * * *
My pensive Sara! thy soft cheek reclined
Thus on mine arm, most soothing sweet it is
To sit beside our Cot, our Cot o’ergrown
With white-flower’d Jasmin, and the broad-leav’d
(Meet emblems they of Innocence and Love!)
And watch the clouds, that late were rich with light,
Slow saddening round, and mark the star of eve
Serenely brilliant (such should Wisdom be)
Shine opposite! How exquisite the scents
Snatch’d from yon bean-field! And the world so
The still murmur of the distant Sea
Tells us of silence.
And that simplest Lute,
Placed length-ways in the clasping casement, hark!
How by the desultory breeze caress’d,
Like some coy maid half yielding to her lover,
It pours such sweet upbraiding, as must needs
Tempt to repeat the wrong! And now, its strings
Boldlier swept, the long sequacious notes
Over delicious surges sink and rise,
Such a soft floating witchery of sound
As twilight Elfins make, when they at eve
Voyage on gentle gales from Fairy-Land,
Where Melodies round honey-dropping flowers,
Footless and wild, like birds of Paradise,
Nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untam’d wing!
O! the one Life within us and abroad,
Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,
A light in sound, a sound-like power in light,
Rhythm in all thought, and joyance every where -
Methinks, it should have been impossible
Not to love all things in a world so fill’d;
Where the breeze warbles, and the mute still air
Is Music slumbering on her instrument.
From The Eolian Harp, 20th August 1795