So free from danger, free from fear

From Coleridge’s Christabel – for the creeping tension as Christabel leads Geraldine into her father’s castle.

They crossed the moat, and Christabel
Took the key that fitted well;
A little door she opened straight,
All in the middle of the gate;
The gate that was ironed within and without
Where an army in battle array had marched out.
The lady sank, belike through pain,
And Christabel with might and main
Lifted her up, a weary weight,
Over the threshold of the gate:
Then the lady rose again,
And moved, as she were not in pain.

So free from danger, free from fear,
They crossed the court: right glad they were.
And Christabel devoutly cried
To the lady by her side,
Praise we the Virgin all divine
Who hath rescued thee from thy distress!
Alas! alas! said Geraldine,
I cannot speak for weariness.
So free from danger, free from fear,
They crossed the court: right glad they were.

Outside her kennel, the mastiff old
Lay fast asleep, in moonshine cold.
The mastiff old did not awake,
Yet she an angry moan did make!
And what can ail the mastiff bitch?
Never till now she uttered yell
Beneath the eye of Christabel.
Perhaps it is the owlet’s scritch:
For what can ail the mastiff bitch?

They passed the hall, that echoes still,
Pass as lightly as you will!
The brands were flat, the brands were dying,
Amid their own white ashes lying;
But when the lady passed, there came
A tongue of light, a fit of flame
And Christabel saw the lady’s eye,
And nothing else saw she thereby,
Save the boss of the shield of Sir Leoline tall,
Which hung in a murky old niche in the wall.

Call it rather a sort of beggarly day-dreaming

A masterly footnote from ch 3 of Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria

To anonymous critics in reviews, magazines, and news-journals of various name and rank, and to satirists with or without a name in verse or prose, or in verse-text aided by prose-comment, I do seriously believe and profess, that I owe full two-thirds of whatever reputation and publicity I happen to possess. For when the name of an individual has occurred so frequently, in so many works, for so great a length of time, the readers of these works—(which with a shelf or two of beauties, elegant Extracts and Anas, form nine-tenths of the reading of the reading Public*)—cannot but be familiar with the name, without distinctly remembering whether it was introduced for eulogy or for censure.

*For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare not compliment their pass-time, or rather kill-time, with the name of reading. Call it rather a sort of beggarly day-dreaming, during which the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself nothing but laziness, and a little mawkish sensibility; while the whole materiel and imagery of the doze is supplied ab extra by a sort of mental camera obscura manufactured at the printing office, which pro tempore fixes, reflects, and transmits the moving phantasms of one mans delirium, so as to people the barrenness of a hundred other brains afflicted with the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite purpose. We should therefore transfer this species of amusement—(if indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never in their company, or relaxation be attributable to those, whose bows are never bent)—from the genus, reading, to that comprehensive class characterized by the power of reconciling the two contrary yet coexisting propensities of human nature, namely, indulgence of sloth, and hatred of vacancy. In addition to novels and tales of chivalry to prose or rhyme, (by which last I mean neither rhythm nor metre) this genus comprises as its species, gaming, swinging, or swaying on a chair or gate; spitting over a bridge; smoking; snuff-taking; tete-a-tete quarrels after dinner between husband and wife; conning word by word all the advertisements of a daily newspaper in a public house on a rainy day, etc. etc. etc.

A little Ape with huge She-Bear

Some more Coleridge juvenalia – this one written in 1792 (age 20) on a break from Cambridge.  It’s addressed to his brother George and concerns the vicar who succeeded their father – the Dickensian-named Fulwood Smerdon.

Written After a Walk Before Supper

Tho’ much averse, dear Jack, to flicker,
To find a likeness for friend V—ker,
I’ve made thro’ Earth, and Air, and Sea,
A Voyage of Discovery!
And let me add (to ward off strife)
For V—ker and for V—ker’s Wife —
She large and round beyond belief,
A superfluity of beef!
Her mind and body of a piece,
And both composed of kitchen-grease.
In short, Dame Truth might safely dub her
Vulgarity enshrin’d in blubber!
He, meagre bit of littleness,
All snuff, and musk, and politesse;
So thin, that strip him of his clothing,
He’d totter on the edge of Nothing!
In case of foe, he well might hide
Snug in the collops of her side.
Ah then, what simile will suit?
Spindle-leg in great jack-boot?
Pismire crawling in a rut?
Or a spigot in a butt?
Thus I humm’d and ha’d awhile,
When Madam Memory with a smile
Thus twitch’d my ear — ‘‘Why sure, I ween,
In London streets thou oft hast seen
The very image of this pair:
A little Ape with huge She-Bear
Link’d by hapless chain together:
An unlick’d mass the one — the other
An antic small with nimble crupper — ‘‘
But stop, my Muse! for here comes supper.

The tea-kettle is spoilt and Coleridge is undone!

Some Coleridge comic juvenalia:

Monody on a Tea-kettle

O Muse who sangest late another’s pain,
To griefs domestic turn thy coal-black steed!
With slowest steps thy funeral steed must go,
Nodding his head in all the pomp of woe:
Wide scatter round each dark and deadly weed,
And let the melancholy dirge complain,
(Whilst Bats shall shriek and Dogs shall howling run)
The tea-kettle is spoilt and Coleridge is undone!
Your cheerful songs, ye unseen crickets, cease!
Let songs of grief your alter’d minds engage!
For he who sang responsive to your lay,
What time the joyous bubbles ’gan to play,
The sooty swain has felt the fire’s fierce rage; —
Yes, he is gone, and all my woes increase;
I heard the water issuing from the wound —
No more the Tea shall pour its fragrant steams around!
O Goddess best belov’d! Delightful Tea!
With thee compar’d what yields the madd’ning Vine?
Sweet power! who know’st to spread the calm delight,
And the pure joy prolong to midmost night!
Ah! must I all thy varied sweets resign?
Enfolded close in grief thy form I see;
No more wilt thou extend thy willing arms,
Receive the fervent Jove, and yield him all thy charms!
How sink the mighty low by Fate opprest! —
Perhaps, O Kettle! thou by scornful toe
Rude urg’d t’ ignoble place with plaintive din,
May’st rust obscure midst heaps of vulgar tin; —
As if no joy had ever seiz’d my breast
When from thy spout the streams did arching fly, —
As if, infus’d, thou ne’er hadst known t’ inspire
All the warm raptures of poetic fire!
But hark! or do I fancy the glad voice —
‘‘What tho’ the swain did wondrous charms disclose —
(Not such did Memnon’s sister sable drest)
Take these bright arms with royal face imprest,
A better Kettle shall thy soul rejoice,
And with Oblivion’s wings o’erspread thy woes!’’
Thus Fairy Hope can soothe distress and toil;
On empty Trivets she bids fancied Kettles boil!