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Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

The Two Founts. Stanzas Addressed To A Lady On Her Recovery, With Unblemished Looks, From A Severe Attack of Pain


'Twas my last waking thought, how it could be,
That thou, sweet friend, such anguish should'st endure
When straight from Dreamland came a dwarf, and he
Could tell the cause, forsooth, and knew the cure.

Methought he fronted me with peering look
Fixed on my heart; and read aloud in game
The loves and griefs therein, as from a book;
And uttered praise like one who wished to blame.

In every heart (quoth he) since Adam's sin
Two Founts there are, of Suffering and of Cheer!
That to let forth, and this to keep within!
But she, whose aspect I find imaged here,

Of Pleasure only will to all dispense,
That Fount alone unlock, by no distress
Choked or turned inward; but still issue thence
Unconquered cheer, persistent loveliness.

As on the driving cloud the shiny Bow,
That gracious thing made up of tears and light,
Mid the wild rack and rain that slants below
Stands smiling forth, unmoved and freshly bright:

As though the spirits of all lovely flowers,
In weaving each its wreath and dewy crown,
Or e'er they sank to earth in vernal showers,
Had built a bridge to tempt the angels down.

Ev'n so, Eliza! on that face of thine,
On that benignant face, whose look alone
(The soul's translucence through her crystal shrine!)
Has power to soothe all anguish but thine own.

A beauty hovers still, and ne'er takes wing,
But with a silent charm compels the stern
And tort'ring Genius of the Bitter Spring,
To shrink aback, and cower upon his urn.

Who then needs wonder, if (no outlet found
In passion, spleen, or strife,) the Fount Of Pain
O'erflowing beats against its lovely mound,
And in wild flashes shoots from heart to brain?

Sleep, and the Dwarf with that unsteady gleam
On his raised lip, that aped a critic smile,
Had passed: yet I, my sad thoughts to beguile,
Lay weaving on the tissue of my dream:

Till audibly at length I cried, as though
Thou hadst indeed been present to my eyes,
O sweet, sweet sufferer! if the case be so,
I pray thee, be less good, less sweet, less wise!

In every look a barbed arrow send,
On those soft lips let scorn and anger live!
Do any thing, rather than thus, sweet friend!
Hoard for thyself the pain, thou wilt not give!

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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