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during the rest of his life, Coleridge visited Germany in 1798. One result of this expedition was his admirable translation of Schiller's Wallenstein, completed in six weeks, and published in 1800; but on the whole, from the period of his more intimate acquaintance with German literature, his poetical genius was eclipsed by his devotion to metaphysical pursuits. Emerging from the materialistic trammels of Hartley, he addicted himself to Kant, and passed in succession through the various schools of German philosophy. In his Friend, his Biographia Literaria, his Aids to Reflection, his Church and State, &c. we possess successive fragments of a great system of philosophy which he had projected, but which he never produced as a whole.
In 1801 Coleridge settled at Keswick; but his health requiring a change of residence, he accompanied Sir Alexander Ball to Malta as his secretary. He subsequently visited Sicily, Naples, and Rome, where he narrowly escaped being arrested by the orders of Buonaparte, who resented the tone of his previous political writings. In 1816 he went to reside with Mr. Gillman at Highgate, and during almost the whole of his remaining life the house of that gentleman was his home. In it he met all that affectionate care which his infirmi. ties required. Coleridge married at a very early age. He died in 1834.
The poetry of Coleridge, the larger part of which seems to have been produced with little effort, and during some twelve or twenty months, at widely separated intervals of his literary life, is remarkable for the mode in which it combines metaphysical speculation with a peculiar poetic tenderness, and a versification almost unrivalled for buoyancy, variety, and music. He is pre-eminently a “ subjective poet," the movements of the human mind being almost always, either in a direct or indirect form, his theme. When his poetry moves among outward objects, it finds itself more at ease among supernatural than natural things, and imparts to us less sense of reality when grappling with the human interests of the drama than when delineating the witch-enchantments of Christabel, or accompanying the “ Ancient Mariner" on his mystic voyage. In this respect, as well as in the expansive and sensitive temperament of his poetry, Coleridge differs widely from Wordsworth. He resembles him more in his philosophic vein, except that his poems of this sort are more abstruse, while they are also more vague and fragmentary, aiming less at definite outline and structural completeness. The earlier poems of Coleridge he himself severely censured, on the ground of a turgid diction, and a “false glitter both of thought and expression.” In his mature works we meet lines of a quintessential and inexplicable sweetness, amid much that almost overtasks the intelligence—“flute-tones," as they have been called, of a pure and spiritual melody.
HYMN BEFORE SUNRISE, IN THE VALE OF CHAMOUNI.
Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc!
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly! but thou, most awful form,
Risest from forth thy silent Sea of Pines,
How silently! Around thee and above
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass : methinks thou piercest it
As with a wedge. But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity;
o dread and silent mount ! I gazed upon thec
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
Didst vanish from my thought : entranced in prayer,
I worshipp'd the Invisible alone.
Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,-
So sweet, we know not we are listening to it,-
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my thought,
Yea, with my life and life's own secret joy :
Till the dilating soul, enrapt, transfused,
Into the mighty vision passing—there,
As in her natural form, swell’d vast to Heaven !
Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks, and secret ecstasy! Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my hymn.
Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the vale!
O, struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky, or when they sink :
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself earth’s rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald : wake, O wake, and utter praise !
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in earth?
Who fill d'thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams ?
And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad!
Who call'd you forth from night and utter death,
Froin dark and icy caverns call’d you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
For ever shatter'd and the same for ever?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest?
Ye ice-falls ! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain-
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty Voice,
And stopp'd at once amid their maddest plunge :
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts !
Who made you glorious as the gates of heaven
Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet ?-
God ! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer; and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God ! sing, ye meadow-streams, with gladsome voice !
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost !
Ye wild-goats sporting round the eagle's nest !
Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain-storm!
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds,
Ye signs and wonders of the element !
Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise !
Thou too, hoar mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds that veil thy breast-
Thou too, again, stupendous mountain ! thou
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,
To rise before me—Rise, O ever rise,–
Rise like a cloud of incense from the earth!
Thou kingly spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from earth to heaven,
Great hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun,
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.
No cloud, no relique of the sunken day
Distinguishes the west, no long thin slip
Of sullen light, no obscure trembling hues.
Come, we will rest on this old mossy bridge!
You see the glimmer of the stream beneath,
But hear no murmuring : it flows silently
O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still,
A balmy night! and though the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the nightingale begins its song,
“ Most musical, most melancholy" bird !
A melancholy bird ? O idle thought !
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
But some night-wandering man, whose heart was pierced
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love
(And so, poor wretch! fill'd all things with himself,
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
Of his own sorrow)—he, and such as he,
First named these notes a melancholy strain.
And many a poet echoes the conceit;-
Poet who hath been building up the rhyme,
When he had better far have stretch'd his limbs
Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell,
By sun or moonlight, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song
And of his fame forgetful! so his fame
Should share in nature's immortality,
A venerable thing! and so his song,
Should make all nature lovelier, and itself
Be loved like nature! But 'twill not be so;
And youths and maidens most poetical,
Who lose the deepening twilights of the spring
Full of meek sympathy, must heave their sighs
O’er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.
My friend, and thou, our sister! we have learnt
A different lore: we may not thus profane
Nature's sweet voices, always full of love
And joyance! 'Tis the merry nightingale
That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates
With fast thick warble his delicious notes,
As he were fearful that an April night
Would be too short for him to utter forth
His love-chant, and disburden his full soul
Of all its music!
And I know a grove
Of large extent, hard by a castle huge,
Which the great lord inhabits not; and so
This grove is wild with tangling underwood,
And the trim walks are broken up, and grass,
Thin grass and king-cups,-grow within the paths.
But never elsewhere in one place I knew
So many nightingales; and far and near,
In wood and thicket, over the wide grove,
They answer and provoke each other's song,
With skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical and swift jug-jug,
And one low piping sound more sweet than all-
Stirring the air with such a harmony,
That should you close your eyes you might almost
Forget it was not day! On moonlight bushes,
Whose dewy leaflets are but half-disclosed,
You may perchance behold them on the twigs-
Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both bright and full,
Glistening, while many a glowworm in the shade
Lights up her love-torch.
A most gentle maid,
Who dwelleth in her hospitable home
Hard by the castle, and at latest eve
(Even like a lady vow'd and dedicate
To something more than nature in the grove)
Glides through the pathways, she knows all their notes,
That gentle maid ! and oft a moment's space,
What time the moon was lost behind a cloud,
Hath heard a pause of silence ; till the moon,
Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky
With one sensation, and these wakeful birds
Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
As if some sudden gale had swept at once
A hundred airy harps! And she hath watch'd
Many a nightingale perch'd giddily
On blossomy twig still swinging from the breeze,
And to that motion tune his wanton song
Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.
Farewell, 0 warbler! till to-morrow eve;
And you, my friends, farewell, a short farewell!
We have been loitering long and pleasantly,
And now for our dear homes.—That strain again!
Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe,
Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
How he would place his hand beside his ear,
His little hand the small forefinger up,
And bid us listen! and I deem it wise
To make him nature's playmate. He knows well
The evening-star; and once, when he awoke