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samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: zoeyj (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 29, 2006 11:15AM

'Reflections on having left a place of retirement' by Smauel Taylor Coleridge.
I am having serious trouble finding anything relating to this poem on the internet and in book shops! I am trying to write about its themes, meaning, imagery,poetic form and language used, etc... Well pretty much everything to do with analysis really. It is proving to be quite the challenge, and for some reason my brain is drawing a blank as to where to start! Any insight would be helpful


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 29, 2006 11:31AM

From this site:

[www.sjsu.edu] />
15. "Reflections on Having Left a Place of Retirement": Note the descriptive details, and particularly the structure of the poem (focus moving from "Cot" to "Mount" to "reflection"). Why has the speaker left his place of retirement? What significance do you see to the "Cot" by the end of the poem?


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 29, 2006 12:07PM

[theliterarylink.com] />
More questions than answers on that link, but some interesting pages to peruse later.

I am having serious trouble finding anything relating to this poem on the internet ...

Google provides lots of information about this, and Coleridge's Conversational Poems in general:

[www.google.com] />
For example,

[etext.virginia.edu] />
[etext.virginia.edu] />
[www.amazon.com] />
[benz.nchu.edu.tw]


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 29, 2006 04:30PM

Might as well put up the poem.

Reflections on having left a place of retirement

            Sermoni propriora.-Hor.

Low was our pretty Cot; our tallest Rose
Peep'd at the chamber-window. We could hear
At silent noon, and eve, and early morn,
The Sea's faint murmur. In the open air
Our Myrtles blossom'd; and across the porch
Thick Jasmins twined: the little landscape round
Was green and woody, and refresh'd the eye.
It was a spot which you might aptly call
The Valley of Seclusion! Once I saw
(Hallowing his Sabbath-day by quietness)
A wealthy son of Commerce saunter by,
Bristowa's citizen: methought it calm'd
His thirst of idle gold, and made him muse
With wiser feelings: for he paus'd, and look'd
With a pleas'd sadness, and gaz'd all around,
Then eyed our Cottage, and gaz'd round again,
And sigh'd, and said, it was a Blessed Place.
And we were bless'd. Oft with patient ear
Long-listening to the viewless sky-lark's note
(Viewless, or haply for a moment seen
Gleaming on sunny wings) in whisper'd tones
I've said to my Beloved, 'Such, sweet Girl!
The inobtrusive song of Happiness,
Unearthly minstrelsy! then only heard
When the Soul seeks to hear; when all is hush'd,
And the Heart listens!'

                        But the time, when first
From that low Dell, steep up the stony Mount
I climb'd with perilous toil and reach'd the top.
Oh! what a goodly scene! Here the bleak mount,
The bare bleak mountain speckled thin with sheep;
Grey clouds, that shadowing spot the sunny fields;
And river, now with bushy rocks o'erbrow'd,
Now winding bright and full, with naked banks;
And seats, and lawns, the Abbey and the wood,
And cots, and hamlets, and faint city-spire;
The Channel there, the Islands and white sails,
Dim coasts, and cloud-like hills, and shoreless Ocean--
It seem'd like Omnipresence! God, methought,
Had built him there a Temple: the whole World
Seem'd imag'd in its vast circumference:
No wish profan'd my overwhelmed heart.
Blest hour! It was a luxury ,--to be!

    Ah! quiet Dell! dear Cot, and Mount sublime!
I was constrain'd to quit you. Was it right,
While my unnumber'd brethren toil'd and bled,
That I should dream away the entrusted hours
On rose-leaf beds, pampering the coward heart
With feelings all too delicate for use?
Sweet is the tear that from some Howard's eye
Drops on the cheek of one he lifts from earth:
And he that works me good with unmov'd face,
Does it but half: he chills me while he aids,
My benefactor, not my brother man!
Yet even this, this cold beneficence
Praise, praise it, O my Soul! oft as thou scann'st
The sluggard Pity's vision-weaving tribe!
Who sigh for Wretchedness, yet shun the Wretched,
Nursing in some delicious solitude
Their slothful loves and dainty sympathies!
I therefore go, and join head, heart, and hand,
Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight
Of Science, Freedom, and the Truth in Christ.

    Yet oft when after honourable toil
    Rests the tir'd mind, and waking loves to dream,
    My spirit shall revisit thee, dear Cot!
    Thy Jasmin and thy window-peeping Rose,
    And Myrtles fearless of the mild sea-air.
    And I shall sigh fond wishes--sweet Abode!
    Ah!--had none greater! And that all had such!
    It might be so--but the time is not yet.
    Speed it, O Father! Let thy Kingdom come!


Note on edit. Some versions on the Internet, are not accurate (surprise! surprise!), including the one I first put up here. I have incorporated corrections after referring to this site

[etext.virginia.edu]

which claims ‘proof-read’ accuracy. It also contains links illuminating some of the references and vocabulary in the poem.

Ian

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2006 05:41PM by IanB.


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 29, 2006 05:10PM

Surely the theme is clear enough. He loves his little rural retreat (the 'pretty Cot'); regards it as a piece of paradise ('a Blessed Place') - an ideal place to retire to. But conscience compels him not to spend his time happily idling there while others have to toil and bleed in the wider world. He must therefore leave it, and engage in 'honourable toil'. He must -

               go, and join head, heart, and hand,
Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight
Of Science, Freedom, and the Truth in Christ.

He is nevertheless nostalgic for that 'sweet Abode' and daydreams of revisiting it. He ends with a prayer that a time will come whan everyone ('all') will have such a place to go to. Implicitly, he will then be able to retire there with an untroubled conscience.

He doesn't make clear what his 'honourable toil' consists of. It is hardly more than a metaphoric reference. Something about fighting for 'Science, Freedom and the Truth in Christ'. A reflection of the view at that time that these were allied banners of the cause of enlightenment.

The two prefatory Latin words quoted from the Roman poet Horace mean ‘things more suitable for conversation’. Which could loosely be interpreted as ‘things that might be better said in prose’. Coleridge regarded this poem, and some of his other poems written around this time, as of that type. In his book ‘Biographia Literaria’ he described them as ‘verses half ludicrous, half splenetic, which I intended, and had myself characterized, as sermoni proprioria’. See:

[72.14.253.104]

This poem was the only one to which he actually attached the Latin tag.

A 20th Century critic dubbed those poems of Coleridge the ‘conversation poems’.

In these days of free verse we see nothing remarkable about a poem of conversational style that could almost be regarded as prose broken into lines. In the late 18th Century however, it probably seemed such a departure from conventional poetic style that Coleridge felt compelled to defend its respectability by invoking a description that Horace, one of the classical icons, had applied to his own work.

Ian

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2006 06:27PM by IanB.


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: zoeyj (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2006 07:33AM

Thankyou so much for your help, it was very useful. I am studying several poems at the moment, and my head is full of meanings and rhyme, so thanyou for making this one clearer.


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: zoeyj (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2006 07:39AM

'Conversation poems' This is very useful, have found an article in one of my books relating to them, it didn't mention Coleridge by name, but now I know that it is linked to him, it's proving to be quite a resource. Thankyou.


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2006 01:16PM

I see I forgot to mention that the poem is written in 'blank verse', i.e. unrhymed iambic pentameter (look it up). Too bad Chesil no longer reads these boards - he was always a rich souce of information on Sammy C. Last post, even on his blog was July of 2006:

[www.photoaspects.com] />
Got ticked of at me, you say? Yeah, could be I guess.


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2006 01:16PM

I see I forgot to mention that the poem is written in 'blank verse', i.e. unrhymed iambic pentameter (look it up). Too bad Chesil no longer reads these boards - he was always a rich souce of information on Sammy C. Last post, even on his blog was July of 2006:

[www.photoaspects.com] />
Got ticked off at me, you say? Yeah, could be I guess.


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2006 01:17PM

Oops - sorry about the double post. Tried to correct 'of' to 'off' as quickly as I could after hitting the button. Not fast enough!


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2006 01:32PM

Yeah, Chesil was a good contributor......Now, Hugh, how could anyone be ticked off at YOU?


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Re: samuel coleridge - 'reflections on having left a place of retirement'
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: January 01, 2007 05:34AM

Hugh makes an interesting point about this poem being blank verse. When I compared it to modern free verse and to prose, I didn't mean to imply that it lacked poetic rhythm. To me, it's predominantly 5-beat, and much of it can be scanned in iambic pentameter; but it's not all iambic if read with natural speech emphasis and rhythm. A few examples of variants:

    (Hallowing his Sabbath-day by quietness)

    And we were bless'd. Oft with patient ear

    With a pleas'd sadness, and gaz'd all around,

    Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight

Such variations have the virtue of preventing the rhythm from becoming sing-song and tedious.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/2007 05:36AM by IanB.


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