Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The Eolian Harp

 
 
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-leaved Myrtle,
5   (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
10   Snatched from yon bean-field! and the world so hushed!
    The stilly murmur of the distant Sea
    Tells us of silence.
           And that simplest Lute,
    Placed length-ways in the clasping casement, hark!
15   How by the desultory breeze caressed,
    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
20   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,
25   Nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untamed 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 -
30   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.
   
35         And thus, my Love! as on the midway slope
    Of yonder hill I stretch my limbs at noon,
    Whilst through my half-closed eye-lids I behold
    The sunbeams dance, like diamonds, on the main,
    And tranquil muse upon tranquillity:
40   Full many a thought uncalled and undetain'd,
    And many idle flitting phantasies,
Traverse my indolent and passive brain,
    As wild and various, as the random gales
    That swell and flutter on this subject Lute!
    And what if all of animated nature
45   Be but organic Harps diversly framed,
    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 ?
   
50        But thy more serious eye a mild reproof
    Darts, O belovèd Woman! nor such thoughts
    Dim and unhallowed dost thou not reject,
    And biddest me walk humbly with my God.
    Meek Daughter in the Family of Christ!
55   Well hast thou said and holily dispraised
    These shapings of the unregenerate mind;
    Bubbles that glitter as they rise and break
    On vain Philosophy's aye-babbling spring.
    For never guiltless may I speak of him,
60   The Incomprehensible! save when with awe
    I praise him, and with Faith that inly feels;
    Who with his saving mercies healed me,
    A sinful and most miserable man,
    Wildered and dark, and gave me to possess
    Peace, and this Cot, and thee, heart-honoured Maid!

First published 1796.

This publication dated 1835.

Contributed by Robert Clark.


To see a pdf file of the first published form of this poem, “Effusion XXXV”, published in Poems on Various Subjects, 1796, please click on this link.


Daniel Robinson