Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

Limbo


The sole true Something--This ! In Limbo Den
It frightens Ghosts as Ghosts here frighten men--
For skimming in the wake it mock'd the care
Of the old Boat-God for his Farthing Fare ;
Tho' Irus' Ghost itself he ne'er frown'd blacker on,
The skin and skin-pent Druggist crost the Acheron,
Styx, and with Puriphlegethon Cocytus,--
(The very names, methinks, might thither fright us--)
Unchang'd it cross'd--& shall some fated Hour
Be pulveris'd by Demogorgon's power
And given as poison to annilate Souls--
Even now It shrinks them ! they shrink in as Moles
(Nature's mute Monks, live Mandrakes of the ground)
Creep back from Light--then listen for its Sound ;--
See but to dread, and dread they know not why--
The natural Alien of their negative Eye.

'Tis a strange place, this Limbo !--not a Place,
Yet name it so ;--where Time & weary Space
Fettered from flight, with night-mair sense of fleeing,
Strive for their last crepuscular half-being ;--
Lank Space, and scytheless Time with branny hands
Barren and soundless as the measuring sands,
Not mark'd by flit of Shades,--unmeaning they
As Moonlight on the dial of the day !
But that is lovely--looks like Human Time,--
An Old Man with a steady Look sublime,
That stops his earthly Task to watch the skies ;
But he is blind--a Statue hath such Eyes ;--
Yet having moon-ward turn'd his face by chance,
Gazes the orb with moon-like countenance,
With scant white hairs, with foretop bald & high,
He gazes still,--his eyeless Face all Eye ;--
As 'twere an organ full of silent Sight,
His whole Face seemeth to rejoice in Light !
Lip touching lip, all moveless, bust and limb,
He seems to gaze at that which seems to gaze on him !
No such sweet sights doth Limbo Den immure,
Wall'd round, and made a Spirit-jail secure,
By the mere Horror of blank Naught-at-all,
Whose circumambience doth these Ghosts enthral.
A lurid thought is growthless, dull Privation,
Yet that is but a Purgatory curse ;
Hell knows a fear far worse,
A fear--a future fate.--'Tis positive Negation !

Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2001

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