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The maid, devoid of guile and sin,
In eyes so innocent and blue.'-ii. p. 70. Mr. Coleridge writes more, and more felicitously, from the unforced, and seemingly unguided association of ideas in his own mind, than any man we know of. We do not refer now to such mere reverie pieces, most delicious in their way, as Fancy in Nubibus, the Day Dream, and Kubla Khan, proofs as they are how truly he says
My eyes make pictures when they are shut-
A Willow and a ruin'd Hut,' &c. but to the Meditative Poems, and others which resemble them in this particular, that there seems to have been no previously designed aim or plan in their composition, except simply to delineate the flow of thoughts originated by some scene or occurrence. They are exhibitions of the writer's mind under certain circumstances or influences. They shew what at least appear to be its involuntary trains of thought and feeling. Few minds could be so exposed with any very pleasurable results to writer or reader. The process is a test of the strength or weakness, the wealth or poverty of the intellect, and of its poetical and moral qualities. It is a sort of Algebraic equation (this article is an attempt to work it), in which the circumstances and the result, are known or given quantities, and the author's intellectual rank, the unknown quantity, to be discovered by their means. The solution scarcely leaves Mr. Coleridge an equal amongst the philosophical poets of our country. It is, moreover, by extracting, that we, as well as the algebraist, have arrived at the demonstration of the problem. And we are sorely tempted to extract yet more largely, to illustrate the justice of our estimate. We must content ourselves with a reference, which may be made to every poem in this department, with the exception of two or three, which do not come properly under the description just given-such as the Hymn which stands first, the Tombless Epitaph, and the Inscription for a Fountain on a Heath, which commences with those two well-known lines, of such matchless beauty and richness,
This Sycamore, oft musical with bees,
Of the “ Odes and Miscellaneous Poems,” which conclude the Sibylline Leaves, it is only needful for us to notice the “Psychological Curiosity,” Kubla Khan. The author informs us that this is such a portion as he could recollect of a much longer poem, which was composed during a profound sleep, at least of the external senses,
* “ if that, indeed, can be called composition, in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort." 'The tale is extraordinary, but Kubla Khan is much more valuable on another account, which is, that of its melodious versification. It is perfect music. The effect could scarcely have been more satisfactory to the ear had every syllable been selected merely for the sake of its sound. And yet there is throughout a close correspondence between the metre, the march of the verse, and the imagery which the words describe. How appropriate are the full tone and slow movement of the commencing lines :
In Xanadu did KUBLA KHAN,
Down to a sunless sea.'
sunny greenery," the “ romantic chasm," and the mighty fountain,” are equally well set, and beautifully varied ; and he who has ever heard read, by a voice of any tolerable degree of sweetness, guided by any tolerable degree of sense, the “ damsel with a dulcimer,” &c. without exquisite enjoyment at the time, and a haunting recollection at intervals ever after, certainly hath no music in his soul, and deserves never again to have any in his ears. And what, except the river itself, can equal the gentle liquidity of the following lines, heightened as the effect is by the startling contrast at their conclusion :
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion,
The elements of this melody are only the common and wellknown ones of English versification; our author is always felicitous in their management, but no where has he blended them in so perfect a combination as in this instance.
It might well be imagined that what Mr. Coleridge has mentioned as a peculiarity of this composition had almost always happened to him in the production of his poems, viz., that the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions. We cannot but believe that usually his " visions flit very palpably before him, from the effect of his descriptions or allusions on the reader. His expressions have peculiar power in calling up the correspondent images. They often do this merely by suggestion. There is a song in “ Remorse," of the last two verses of which every line is a picture, and the whole gradually, but most distinctly, rises upon the mind as perfect a scene as ever was painted.
And at evening evermore,
Miserere Domine !'-ii. p. 175. The second volume contains, besides some short miscellaneous pieces, several of which have been already noticed, the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and the Dramas of Remorse and Zapolya. The last of these belongs, both in spirit and execution, to his prose works. We therefore pass that over. Nor will Remorse, although the conception is good, and there are many passages which few men living could have written, do any thing for his fame. His talent is not dramatic. Cleverness is worth much more than genius in the production of a good acting play. Morton and O'Keefe are better men for the boards than Scott and Byron. And Mr. Coleridge has not much cleverness. He wants also the versatility which is essential to a good reading play. He does not throw his own mind into those of his characters, but absorbs theirs into his. They are, each and all, only Coleridge slightly modified. Nor can we linger now on Christabel, although we should not despair of making good its claim to the well-known panegyric of Byron. The third volume consists wholly of the translations of the Piccolomini and the Death of Wallenstein. A word or two on the "Ancient Mariner," and we have done. !
The hope of a poet's immortality might be safely built, and would securely rest, on “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" alone. The hero is a most poetical personage, with his tall gaunt form, his embrowned visage, his skinny hand, long white beard, and glittering eye, passing "like night, from land to land,” and doing penance for the wanton cruelty of shooting a harmless sea-bird, by the agony which ever and anon constraineth him to tell his story," and to teach, by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God made and loveth.” The voyage on which this adventure happened, involves a succession of scenes which are described with a rapidity demanded by the interest of the story, but with that graphic power which shews every thing by a few bold strokes. The storm and the calm are two specimens out of many :
And now the Storm-BLAST came, and he
With sloping masts and dipping prow,
All in a hot and copper sky,
Day after day, day after day,
Upon a painted ocean. --ii. 9. The supernatural Agents are finely-imagined and delineated. The first introduced is the author of all the mischief which befel the Ancient Mariner and his shipmates, out of revenge for the death of the Albatross, probably almost the only living thing in
the dreary region about the south pole, which this spirit inhabited, and therefore proportionably dear to him.
• The Spirit who bideth by himself
Who shot him with his bow.' While this vindictive spirit is pursuing his plans of retribution, “the Ancient Mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off," prefiguring the destiny of himself and his comrades. It is a spectre ship, in which Death and Life-in-death dice for the crew, and she (we must introduce ber) wins the Ancient Mariner.
· Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.' Milton's Death, with all his regality, might have been proud to woo and win such a mate as this.
After the death of the crew, their bodies are animated by "a troop of spirits blest,” who leave them every morning, not visibly, but in music.
• For when it dawn'd-they dropp'd their arms,
And now 'twas like all instruments,