Treasure Island

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

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Fears In Solitude


A green and silent spot, amid the hills,
A small and silent dell ! O'er stiller place
No singing sky-lark ever poised himself.
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  • Patricia Northall (3/5/2014 2:23:00 PM)

    I agree with the first comment, it is far too long, and he does tend to stray from one train
    of thought to another without clarity. But, then reading the remaining comments they feel
    it is very good poetry, and see the meaning of war, bloodshed, and understand why he
    wrote the poem. I am not a scholar, so I'm afraid my comments are very basic, and rest
    on whether I understand the message of the poem immediately, and the writer's inspiration,
    I found it a very confusing poem to read, and follow. (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (3/4/2014 3:13:00 PM)

    Coleridge's most famed work was arguably, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Sadly, as his mental health failed, he became a religious fanatic and began to ramble. The language in this piece is understandably archaic, as a long time has elapsed since he roamed the Lake District, and the punctuation makes this political mantra even more obscure. Rejected love and religious mania have not, in my opinion, created a poem of any great note here. (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (3/4/2010 5:07:00 PM)

    Fears In Solitude by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is not a simple Romantic Lyric poem reflecting upon nature. The poem was written in April 1798 and is not neutral musings about nature, an imaginative flight and return to reality, but rather a reaction to fearful politics of the time. The poem is problematic, a misfit conversational poem of the eighteenth century, with a structural pattern rather like the seventeenth century meditation poem. It is a composition of place and analysis, written during the alarm of invasion. The belief the French threatened to invade Great Britain, and support the Irish rebellion, results in national preparation for possible invasion.
    ‘It weighs upon the heart, that he must think
    What uproar and what strife may now be stirring
    This way or that way o'er these silent hills-
    Invasion, and the thunder and the shout,
    And all the crash of onset; fear and rage, ’
    Coleridge writes this patriotic defense of homeland, with unity of mankind and nature, expressed with a fear that invasion will destroy this unity. Coleridge’s belief is man should live a simple life in harmony with nature. However Coleridge is still critical of some British politics which are like a plague that spreads similar vile practice to other nations.
    ‘Our brethren! Like a cloud that travels on,
    Steamed up from Cairo's swamps of pestilence,
    Even so, my countrymen! have we gone forth
    And borne to distant tribes slavery and pangs,
    And, deadlier far, our vices, whose deep taint
    With slow perdition murders the whole man, ’
    This to my mind is a direct attack on the slave trade, Pitt supports anti slavery but the revenue is needed to support a war against France, and Pitt feared if Britain abolishes slavery at this time France will take Britain’s former place in the slavery market and become even more powerful.
    Coleridge is not writing a simple conversational poem, investigating landscape in reflective contrast to the effects of the French revolution, within the spiritual nationalistic nature of empires at this time. Coleridge is conflicted, suffering from a lack of heart, he has no eternal truths; he was an early supporter the French revolution, as a Jacoblin and radical but has now recanted. His belief this revolution will bring needed political change to Great Britain and Europe, dissolves with the revolutionary crimes of the new French government and the swift invasions of European nations that follow. Coleridge with lost faith in the revolutionary cause, turns from radical to more conservative. Proof of this and the political nature of the poem, are the removed lines attacking William Pitt and the British government in some later editions. The pastoral images beginning and ending the poem, rejoice in mankind in harmony and peace with the ‘fresh and delicate’ balance of nature. A long poem due to the necessity of what the poet needs to exclaim. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (3/4/2010 12:11:00 PM)

    The feisty and bloodthirsty skylark is something I never saw or heard of in all my born days! More likely the tiny passerine is an anthropomorphic symbol of joy (see Shelley's 'To a Skylark' and Keats' 'Ode to a Nightingale') or a symbol of the visionary imagination! Coleridge is well aware of man's inhumanity towards his fellow creatures. The 'Fears' that beset the poet in his solitude concern the dangers whether or not they may seem factious or ill-timed are only too real. Coleridge decries the meaningless mumbo-jumbo and ignorance of the clergy to the 'sweet words of Christian promise'! Do not consider Coleridge a dreamy and limp-wristed scribbler - he had trained as a soldier as a young man and distrusted the politician who can rattle off all the 'dainty terrms for fratricide' and allow the deaths of 'thousands or ten thousands'! If we don't think about this slaughter, who will? (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (3/4/2010 5:49:00 AM)

    There is a deep irony in this piece. The country in which Coleridge finds such solace, and the peace of which he implicitly contrasts with the dreadful bloodthirstiness of the world of man is itself red in tooth and law. The skylark which flies above him to his joy is looking for something to kill or perhaps defending its territory. The terrain itself, is the result of man’s wresting from nature a viable home.

    The difference between man and nature is less than the Romantics thought. To be able to sit unmolested in the countryside is the result of thousands of years of bloody and ruthless strife. He is right about the people who glory in war, but wrong that nature is that much different. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (3/4/2010 1:44:00 AM)

    Pure poetry of a great poet Coleridge cannot be taken lightly! Whatever he said is eternal truth! Everything is repeating underscoring the need for the transformation of humanity! The cool, calm and beautiful Nature makes him muse over the wrongs of State and hypocrisy everywhere and the fear he gets is genuine to feel. Introspection is needed to restore the peace and beauty of Nature to enjoy ever! The message is still thought provoking though it was composed in the 18th century and makes one believe ht history repeats itself again and not the world is changing for the better! I appreciate my favourite poet's view forever! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Whinney (3/4/2005 11:42:00 AM)

    Great poetry and so applicable to our present day in UK! I have read and re-read as ther is so much to ponder in it. Thank you.
    What date was it written please? Early or late? (Report) Reply

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