Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

Ode To Sara, In Answer To A Letter From Bristol


Nor travels my meand'ring eye
The starry wilderness on high;
Nor now with curious sight
I mark the glow-worm as I pass,
Move with 'green radiance' thro' the grass,
An emerald of light.

O ever-present to my view!
My wafted spirit is with you,
And soothes your boding fears;
I see you all opprest with gloom
Sit lonely in that cheerless room--
Ah me! you are in tears!

Belovèd woman! did you fly
Chilled friendship's dark disliking eye
Or mirth's untimely din?
With cruel weight these trifles press
A temper sore with tenderness,
When aches the void within.

But why with sable wand unblest
Should fancy rouse within my breast
Dim-visaged shapes of dread?
Untenanting its beauteous clay,
My Sara's soul has winged its way,
And hovers round my head!

I felt it prompt the tender dream,
When, slowly sunk the day's last gleam,
You roused each gentler sense;
As sighing o'er the blossom's bloom
Meek evening wakes its soft perfume
With viewless influence.

And hark, my love! The sea-breeze moans
Thro' yon reft house! O'er rolling stones,
With broad impetuous sweep,
The fast encroaching tides supply
The silence of the cloudless sky
With mimic thunders deep.

Dark-redd'ning from the channel'd isle
(Where stands one solitary pile
Unslated by the blast)
The watchfire, like a sullen star,
Twinkles to many a dozing star,
Rude-cradled on the mast.

Ev'n there -- beneath that light-house tower--
In the tumultuous evil hour
Ere peace with Sara came,
Time was, I should have thought it sweet
To count the echoings of my feet,
And watch the troubled flame.

And there in black soul-jaundiced fit
A sad gloom-pampered man to sit,
And listen to the roar,
When mountain surges, bellowing deep,
With an uncouth monster leap
Plunged foaming on the shore.

Then by the lightning's blaze to mark,
Some toiling tempest-shattered bark,
Her vain distress-guns hear:
And when a second-sheet of light
Flashed o'er the blackness of the night --
To see no vessel there!

But fancy now more gayly sings;
Or if awhile she droop her wings,
As skylark's 'mid the corn,
On summer fields she grounds her breast:
Th' oblivious poppy o'er her nest,
Nods, till returning morn.

O mark those smiling tears, that swell
The opened rose! From heaven they fell,
And with the sunbeam blend;
Blessed visitations from above:
Such are the tender woes of love
Fost'ring the heart they bend!

When stormy midnight howling round
Beats on our roof with clatt'ring sound,
To me your arms you'll stretch:
Great God! you'll say -- To us so kind,
O shelter from this loud bleak wind
The houseless, friendless wretch!

The tears that tremble down your cheek,
Shall bathe my kisses chaste and meek
In pity's dew divine;
And from your heart the sighs that steal
Shall make your rising bosom feel
The answ'ring swell of mine!

How oft, my love! with shapings sweet
I paint the monument we shall meet!
With eager speed I dart--
I seize you in the vacant air,
And fancy, with a husband's care,
I press you to my heart!

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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