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Patrick McEvoy-Halston English382lF0l Dr. Kim G.

Blank 28 Novernber 2002 From Humble(d)Beginnings ' As a boyrSamuel Taylor Coleridge wasbadlybullied. His brotherFrankbullied him because thoughtSamuelwastheir mother's favouriteson. Samuel he became "fretful" and 110). Shunned otherboysfor beinga sissy,Samuel "timorous" (Weissman by readbooksabout adventures playfully actedout the tales. But his father,believingthat Samuelwas too and overwhelmed the books' scaryparts,burnt the books. This Coleridgewasunderstandably by pleased afterwriting'oThisLime-TreeBowed'because "Lime-Tree"wasan imaginative attempt to shape boyhoodmiseriesinto a boon.6owever, Coleridgehad onceboth turnedthe tables his on his brotherandsuccessfully bravedan eveningaloneoutsidehis home. And this Coleridge, the personhe might havebeenhadhe not beenbullied, the onewho ttroughtof himself aswild andfree, is the personhe tried to 'tecovetr"in subsequent poefiry.Throughfirst rejecting(in the re-writeof "Lime-Tree" andin'.Frost at Midnight') the accommodating andthe selftone deceptivestance "Lime-Tree," Coleridgeregainsthe will in "France: an Ode" to onceagain of braveplacing himself outsidebeforea threatening night sky. Out there,outside,Coleridge claimsliberty from all '!risons," self-imposed othennrise. and In "Lime Tteei Coleridgecharacterizes himselfas"lame," "faint," and"lonely." He pretends that this status,the conseque,lrce of Sarahspilling hot milk on his foot, is unusual. here The normo pretends, he was for him to roarnaboutwith friends. But Coleridgegrew up denied the outdoorplay that othersindulgedin. His brotherFrankintimidatedhim until he became the sortof percon--a sissy--that otherboyswould havenothingto do with (Weissman 110). He compensated readingadventure by stories;but his father,"disliking the effect [ . . . ] which these bookshadproduced"(Coleridge, "Dearest Poole" 346-50), burntthe booksjust asSarah burns Coleridge'sfoot in "Lime-Tree." {olendge hadhis wholechildhoodto persuade himselfthat


'tevelation" in "Lime-ftee" is betterunderstood a as deprivationis a goodthing, so his capitulationto the statusimposeduponhim by boyhoodbullies than asian enlightenment.But of the to Coleridgepenned"Lime-Tree" prepared repudiate "lame" represe,lrtation himself in the hunrble-bee. stingless, is poemasi whosenattral company the hornless, someone buoyedby his friendshipwith the "greatman" Wordsworth,ffid certainly Perhaps his building on the onenight asa boy he hadthreate,ned brotherwith a knife, Coleridgealters more coillmandingthan accommodating.The "Lime-Tree" in the re-write so that he seems virtues in "narrow" Coleridgein the first versionis the onewho discovers acconrmodating / of places, who states "sometimes/ [t]is well to be bereaved promised that and _gogd, [t]hat we (ltV i;* *lr l Coleridge may lift the soul and contemplate . . . ] thejoys we cannotshare." The commanding [ awe-inspiring is the onewho in the re-write altersthe dell his friendsexploreso that it becomes andthreatening. In the original versionthereis a'tifted dell, wheremanyan ash/ [t]wists its wild limbs nalrow t . . . ] [and] besidethe ferny rock." In the re-writethereis a "roaringdell, o'erwooded, his deep." In the originalversionhe imagines friendsonly "look[ing]" into the dell; the re-write Coleridgeaddresses is hasthem'\rinding down" into it. The resultof ttris alteration thatwhe,n [Ds to grove,andoceaqheseems bc command$! theseelements do battle with to the sun,clouds, such marksendingstateme,nts as"[r]ichlier burnnye the dell. Despiteall of the exclamation he clouds!"and"kindle, thoughblue ocean!"in the first version,because hasnot evokedthe more a wistful plea for natureto tend to seems dell, Coloidge's address imageof a threatening him from threatening to his long suffering friend CharlesLanrbthan a cofirmand rescue

to surroundings.The reference his friend's deprivedstatusasa city-dweller is still therein the re-write, but it is ove,lrvhelmed the more evocativeandprovocativedell. by bJ*" in Larnbobjectd to being described "Lime-Tree" asa "gentle" city-dweller tlat needed


'tescuing," andaskedthat Coleridgechange how he charactenzedhim subsequent in versionsof the poem(Wu 458). Coleridge nevercompliedwith his friend'srequest; instead, leavesout he

his own self-description "lame," "lonely," and"faint" in the re-write. The removalof these as words is appropriate, in the re-write Coleridgeactsin sucha way that he no longerwarrants for being described the humanequivalentof the humble-bee. as Coleridge, while he commands nature, doesnot in the re-writeusurphis bower-prison. What he doesdo is ituliri". the word'tlsurp" in the text, which only addsto the many exclamation marksin the poema disturbance thepoem'smeditative to mood. Coleridgedoes not usurp'lrisons" in "Frost at Midnighf' either,but he makesclearin this poemthe real reason he chosenot to do so in "Lime-Tree."

As wasthe casein "Lime-Tree,"Coleridge deniedaccess '!laymate[s]" in "Frost at is to Midnight." Unlike "Lime-Tree,n'he boldly addresses ratherthancamouflages perpetual his boyhoodexperience being"dr[iven] t . . . I from play " ('DearestPoold'346-350). What of keepshim "imprisoned" in "Frost at Midnight" is not an accident, ratherthe "stern but preceptor's[intimidating] fae'e."And ratherthan discoveringthat thereis "[n]o sceneso narrow but may well employ / [e]achfacultyof sense, keepthe heart/ [a]waketo love and atrd beauty,"in "Frost at Midnight" 'harrod' scenes leadinevitablyendro resticted happiness. "Cloister[ed]"living is not redeemed this poemby discovering in virtue in deniedpleasures. Instead,Coleridgeis regretful that he "saw noughtlovely [as a child] but the sky andstars (emphasis added)." '/

In "Frost at MidniSrt;Coleridge hopest@tlns sonwill not be confinedto narow scenes ashe oncewas. He hopestinsteadrttrat sonwill '\vander[epiclandscapes] the breeze." his like However,because refersto the night sky asthe only redemptiveele,lnent knew as a boy, he he Coteridgemay alreadybe preparingto '\randed' aboutawesome environments himself.


involved outsidedangers Coleridge'ssoleexperience a child of usurpingbullies andenduring as spending eveningalonebeforethe night sky. Thoughit may havebeenonly oneoccasion, an had on this occasion knownwhat it wasto fight back'fuithout runningbackto his Coleridge I mother,t . . . ] provinghe wasno sissyor tattletale"(Weissman 18). He ran outsidehis home provinghe could andendured "dreadfulstormynighf' (Coleridge, a "Dear Poole" 352-356), An his handlethe fearsome of. experiences fatherthoughthim incapable And in 'oFrance: Odei' leaves bower-prison his behindto wind his 'lnoonlight way'"[t]hrough gloomswhich Coleridge neverwoodmantrod." to Coleridge begins"France: An Ode" with an apology: he mustapologize naturefor to confrollingit in the re-writeof "Lime-Tree." The cloudshe hadcommanded 'tichlier burn" in Lime-Treebecome cloudsthat "no mortalmay conftol." The woodsthat he hadthe "ancient the herein the ivy' '!Sg{p," now are"impe,rious" master wind. Coleridge no interest and has the of in "sweetsounds"and"pleasingshapes" naturethathadinspiredcapitulation "Lime-Tree." He is instead intenton rediscovering amidstthe'1ude shape[s], wild unconquerable and sound[s]"of naturethe obstinacy, will to refuseto "[y]ield homage" thosewho would the to cnrtailhis freedom.V He doesnot exempthimself. Coleridge in repudiates "France: an Ode'o thosewho are "[s]lavesby their own compulsion[,] . . . I [who] wearthe name/ [o]f freedomgravenon a t heavierchain." He likely is thinking of himselfhere--orat leastthe Coleridgewho pretended in 'ol-ime-Tree" deprivationcanleadto '\ris[dom]," that This Coleridge, "pur[ity]," andhappiness. who usedhis imagination transfonna prisoninto a holy site,needed sterneyeto keepin to no place. Nor shouldhe havefeared punishment:he waswilling to pretend thatphysical incapacitation be a goodthing. can The Coleridge "France: An Ode" shouldexpect in punishment--but Coleridge this was

not intimidated. Standing that beforenaturehe declares he will not be anyone'sslave. But because, despitethe certaintyof punishment, had still asa boy managed defu brother, he to father,andmother--those who had,aswith Saratr "Lime-Tree," madehim into a pitiful homein body--Coleridge alreadylearned "obstinacy had that vanquish[es] . . .] fears"("DearPoole" [ 352-356). r/ By rediscovering insight--amoreprofounddiscoverythan anythinghe found in the this bower-prison--outside beforea night sky, Coleridge alsorecovef,s what he hopesis his true self; "Oh Liberty, [he proclaims,]my [fiue] spirit felt thee@!" (emphasis added). (1390words) t/Works Cited Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. "DearPoole." 16 October1781. Collected Lettersof Samuel TaylorColeridge. Ed. E. LGrigg. Vol. 1. Oxford: ClarendonPress, 1956. "France: An Ode." Romanticism:An Antholoey. 2nd ed. Ed. DuncanWu 465-468. Malden: BlackwellPublishers, 1998. "Frost at Midnight." DuncanWu 462-465, 'My Dearest Poole." 9 October1797. E. L. Gritr BowerMy Prison." Duncan "This Lime-Tree Wu 458-459,551-552. Weissman, Stephen.His Brother'sKeeper: A Psychobiography Samugl of Taylor Coleridge. Madison: International Universities Press, 1989. Wu, Duncan,ed. Romanticism:An Anthology u.


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