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Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

Lines On A Friend, Who Died Of A Frenzy Fever, Induced By Calumnious Reports


Edmund! thy grave with aching eye I scan,
And inly groan for heaven's poor outcast, man!
'Tis tempest all or gloom: in early youth,
If gifted with the Ithuriel lance of truth,
We force to start amid her feigned caress
Vice, siren-hag! in native ugliness,
A brother's fate will haply rouse the tear:
Onward we move in heaviness and fear!
But if our fond hearts call to pleasure's bower
Some pigmy folly in a careless hour,
The faithless guest shall stamp th' enchanted ground
And mingled forms of mis'ry rise around:
Heart-fretting fear, with pallid look aghast,
That courts the future woe to hide the past;
Remorse, the poisoned arrow in his side;
And loud lewd mirth, to anguish close allied:
Till frenzy, fierce-eyed child of moping pain,
Darts her hot lightning flash athwart the brain.

Rest, injured shade! Shall slander squatting near
Spit her cold venom in a dead man's ear?
'Twas thine to feel the sympathetic glow
In merit's joy, and poverty's meek woe;
Thine all, that cheer the moment as it flies,
The zoneless cares, and smiling courtesies.
Nursed in thy heart the firmer virtues grew,
And in thy heart they withered! Such chill dew
Wan indolence on each young blossom shed;
And vanity her filmy net-work spread,
With eye that rolled around in asking gaze,
And tongue that trafficked in the trade of praise.
Thy follies such! the hard world mark'd them well--
Were they more wise, the proud who never fell?

Rest, injured shade! the poor man's grateful prayer
On heaven-ward wing thy wounded soul shall bear.
As oft at twilight gloom thy grave I pass,
And oft sit down upon its recent grass,
With introverted eye I contemplate
Similitude of soul, perhaps of -- fate!

To me hath Heaven with bounteous hand assign'd
Energetic reason and a shaping mind,
The daring ken of truth, the patriot's part,
And pity's sigh, that breathes the gentle heart--
Sloth-jaundiced all! and from my graspless hand
Drop friendship's precious pearls, like hour-glass sand.
I weep, yet stoop not! the faint anguish flows,
A dreamy pang in the morning's fev'rish doze.

Is this piled earth our being's passless mound?
Tell me, cold grave! is death with poppies crown'd?
Tired sentinel! mid fitful starts I nod,
And fain would sleep, though pillowed on a clod!

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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