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Didst trace my wanderings with a father's eye;
And boding evil, yet still hoping good,
Rebuk'd each fault and wept o'er all my woes.
Who counts the beatings of the lonely heart,
That Being knows how I have lov'd thee ever,
Lov'd as a brother, as a son rever'd thee!
O'tis to me an ever-new delight,
My earger eye glist’ning with mem’ry's tear,
To talk of thee and thine; or when the blast
Of the shrill winter, ratt’ling our rude sash,
Endears the cleanly hearth and social bowl;
Or when, as now, on some delicious eve,
We in our sweet sequester'd orchard-plot
Sit on the tree crook'd earth-ward ; whose old boughs,
That hang above us in an arborous roof,
Stirr'd by the faint gale of departing May
Send their loose blossoms slanting o'er our heads !

Nor dost not thou sometimes recall those hours,
When with the joy of hope thou gav'st thine ear
To my wild firstling lays ? Since then my song
Hath sounded deeper notes, such as beseem
Or that sad wisdom, folly leaves behind,
Or the high raptures of prophetic faith,
Or such, as tun'd to these tumultuous times,
Cope with the tempest's swell!

These various songs, Which I have fram'd in many a various mood, Accept my brother! and (for some perchance

Will strike discordant on thy milder mind)
If aught of error or intemperate truth
Should meet thine ear, think thou that riper age
Will calm it down, and let thy love forgive it!

S. T. COLERIDGE.

May 26th, 1797. Nether-Stowey, Somerset.

PREFACE

TO THE FIRST EDITION.

COMPOSITIONS resembling those of the present volume are not unfrequently condemned for their querulous egotism. But egotism is to be condemned then only when it offends against time and place, as in a history or an epic poem. To censure it in a monody or sonnet is almost as absurd as to dislike a circle for being round. Why then write sonnets or monodies? Because they give me pleasure when perhaps nothing else could. After the more violent emotions of sorrow, the mind demands amusement, and can find it in employment alone; but full of its late sufferings, it can endure no employment not in some measure connected with them. Forcibly to turn away our attention to general subjects is a painful and most often an unavailing effort:

" But O! how grateful to a wounded heart
The tale of misery to impart
From others' eyes bid artless sorrows flow,
And raise esteem upon the base of woe!"

Shaw, The communicativeness of our nature leads us to describe our own sorrows; in the endeavour to describe them, intellectual activity is exerted ; and from intellectual activity there results a pleasure, which is gradually associated,

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and mingles as a corrective, with the painful subject of the description. “True!" (it may be answered) “ but how are the Public interested in your sorrows, or your description ?" We are for ever attributing personal unities to imaginary aggregates. What is the Public, but a term for a number of scattered individuals ? Of whom as many will be interested in these sorrows, as have experienced the same, or similar.

“ Holy be the lay
Which mourning soothes the mourner on his way.”

If I could judge of others by myself, I should not hesitate to afirm, that the most interesting passages in our most interesting poems are those in which the author developes his own feelings. The sweet voice of Cona* never sounds so sweetly, as when it speaks of itself; and I should almost suspect that man of an unkindly heart, who could read the opening of the third book of The Paradise Lost without peculiar emotion. By a law of our nature, he, who labours under a strong feeling, is impelled to seek for sympathy; but a poet's feelings are all strong.—Quicquid amet valde amat.-Akenside therefore speaks with philosophical accuracy, when he classes love and poetry, as producing the same effects :

" Love and the wish of poet's when their tongue

Would teach to others' bosoms, what so charms
Their own."

Pleasures of Imagination.

There is one species of egotism which is truly disgusting; not that which leads us to communicate our feelings to others, but that which would reduce the feelings of others to an identity with our own. The Atheist, who exclaims, pshaw !" when he glances his eye on the praises of Deity, is an egotist:

* Ossian.

an old man, when he speaks contemptuously of love-verses, is an egotist ; and the sleek favourites of fortune are egotists, when they condemn all “ melancholy, discontented” verses. Surely, it would be candid not merely to ask whether the poem pleases ourselves, but to consider whether or no there may not be others, to whom it is well calculated to give an innocent pleasure.

I shall only add, that each of my readers will, I hope, remember, that these poems on various subjects, which he reads at one time, and under the influence of one set of feelings, were written at different times, and prompted by very different feelings; and therefore that the supposed inferiority of one poem to another may sometimes be owing to the temper of mind, in which he happens to

peruse it.

S. T. C.

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