445. To William Sotheby Address: W. Sotheby Esq. | Upper Seymour St | LondonSingle Sheet MS. Colonel H. G. Sotheby. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 376. Postmark: 22 July 1802. Stamped: Keswick. July 19, [1802.] Keswick My dear Sir I trouble you with another Letter, to inform you that I have finished the first Book of the Erste Schiffer; it consists of about 580 Lines -- the second Book will be a 100 lines less. I can transcribe both legibly in three single-sheet Letters -- you will only be so good as to inform me, whither & whether I am to send them. If they are likely to be of any service to Tomkins, he is welcome to them / if not I shall send them to the Morning Post. I have given a faithful Translation in blank Verse / . To have decorated Gesner would have been indeed 'to spice the spices' -- to have lopped & pruned somewhat, would have only produced incongruity / to have done it sufficiently would have been to have published a poem of my own, not Gesner's -- I have aimed at nothing more than purity & elegance of English, a keeping & harmony in the color of the Style, & a smoothness without monotony in the Versification. If I have succeeded, as I trust, I have, in these respects, my Translation will be just so much better than the original, as metre is better than prose, in their judgments at least, who prefer blank Verse to Prose. -- I was probably too severe on the morals of the Poem -- uncharitable perhaps, but I am a homebrewed Englishman, and tolerate downright grossness more patiently than this coy and distant Dallying with the Appetites. 'Die Pflanzen entstehen aus dem Saamen, gewisse Thiere gehen aus den Eyern hervor, andre so, andre anders. Ich hab' es alleg bemerkt; was hab' ich auch sonst zu thun?' &c &c &c Now I apprehend that it will occur to 19 readers out of 20, that a maiden so very curious, so exceedingly inflamed & harrassed by a Difficulty, & so subtle in the discovery of even comparatively distant analogies, would necessarily have seen the difference of sex in her Flocks & Herds, & the MARITAL as well as -813- maternal character could not have escaped her / . Now I avow, that the grossness & vulgar plain Sense of Theocritus's Shepherd Lads, bad as it is, is in my opinion less objectionable than Gesner's Refinement -- which necessarily leads the imagination to Ideas without expressing them -- Shaped & cloathed -- the mind of a pure Being would turn away from them, from natural delicacy of Taste / but in that shadowy half-being, that state of nascent Existence in the Twilight of Imagination, and just on the vestibule of Consciousness, they are far more incendiary, stir up a more lasting commotion, & leave a deeper stain. The Suppression & obscurity arrays the simple Truth in a veil of something like Guilt, that is altogether meretricious, as opposed to the matronly majesty -- of our Scriptures, for instance -- / -- and the Conceptions, as they recede from distinctness of Idea, approximate to the nature of Feeling, & gain thereby a closer & more immediate affinity with the appetites. ----- But independently of this, the whole passage, consisting of precisely one fourth of the whole Poem, has not the least Influence on the action of the Poem / and it is scarcely too much to say, that it has nothing to do with the main Subject / except indeed it be pleaded that Love is induced by compassion for this maiden to make a young man Dream of her, which young man had been, without any influence of this said Cupid, deeply interested in the story -- & therefore did not need the interference of Cupid at all -- any more than he did the assistance of ├ćolus, for a fair wind all the way to an Island, that was within sight of Shore. -- I translated the Poem, partly, because I could not endure to appear irresolute & capricious to you, in the first undertaking which I had connected in any way with your person -- in an undertaking, which I connect with our journey from Keswick to Grasmere, the Carriage in which we were, your Son, your Brother, your daughter, & your wife -- all of whom may God Almighty bless! -- a Prayer not the less fervent, my dear Sir I for being a little out of place here ----& partly too, because I wished to force myself out of metaphysical trains of Thought -- which, when I trusted myself to my own Ideas, came upon me uncalled -- & when I wished to write a poem, beat up Game of far other kind -- instead of a Covey of poetic Partridges with whirring wings of music, or wild Ducks shaping their rapid flight in forms always regular (a still better image of Verse) up came a metaphysical Bustard, urging it's slow, heavy, laborious, earth-skimming Flight, over dreary & level Wastes. To have done with poetical Prose (which is a very vile Olio) Sickness & some other & worse afflictions, first forced me into downright metaphysics / for I believe that by nature I have more of the Poet in me / In a poem written during that dejection to Wordsworth, & -814- the greater part of a private nature -- I thus expressed the thought -- in language more forcible than harmonious. 1 ----- Yes, dearest Poet, yes! There was a time when tho' my Path was rough, The Joy within me dallied with Distress, And all Misfortunes were but as the Stuff Whence Fancy made me Dreams of Happiness: For Hope grew round me, like the climbing Vine, And Fruit and Foliage, not my own, seem'd mine. But now Afflictions bow me down to Earth -- Nor car'd 2 I, that they rob me of my Mirth; But O! each Visitation Suspends what Nature gave me at my Birth, My shaping Spirit of Imagination! ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- [sic] For not to think of what I needs must feel, But to be still & patient all I can; And haply by abstruse research to steal From my own Nature all the natural Man; This was my sole Resource, my wisest Plan -- And that which suits a part infects the whole, And now is almost grown the Temper of my Soul! Thank Heaven! my better mind has returned to me -- and I trust, I shall go on rejoicing. -- As I have nothing better to fill the blank space of this Sheet with, I will transcribe the introduction of that Poem to you, that being of a sufficiently general nature to be interesting to you. -- The first Lines allude to a stanza in the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence -- 'Late, late yestreen, I saw the new Moon With the old Moon in her arms; and I fear, I fear, my master dear, There will be a deadly Storm.' -- Letter written Sunday Evening, April 4. 1 Well! if the Bard was weatherwise who made The dear old Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence, This Night, so tranquil now, will not go hence Unrous'd by Winds, that ply a busier Trade ____________________ 1 These selections from the 4 Apr. 1802 draft of Dejection indicate that Coleridge was already working over his poem some months before it was first published in the Morning Post. 2 care [Cancelled word in line above.] -815- Than that, which moulds yon Clouds in lazy Flakes, Or the dull sobbing Draft, that drones and rakes Upon the Strings of this Eolian Lute, Which better far were mute. For lo! the New-moon, winter-bright; And overspread with phantom Light; (With swimming phantom Light o'erspread, But rimm'd and circled with a silver Thread;) I see the old Moon in her Lap, foretelling The coming on of Rain &squally Blast! And O! that even now the Gust were swelling, And the slant Night-shower driving loud & fast! A Grief without a Pang, void, dark, & drear! A stifling, drowsy, unimpassioned Grief, That finds no natural Outlet, no Relief In word, or Sigh, or Tear! This, William! well thou know'st, Is that sore Evil which I dread the most, And oft'nest suffer. In this heartless Mood, To other Thoughts by yonder Throstle woo'd That pipes within the Larch-tree, not unseen -- (The Larch, that pushes out in Tassels green It's bundled Leafits) woo'd to mild Delights By all the tender Sounds & gentle Sights Of this sweet Primrose-Month -- & vainly woo'd! O dearest Poet, in this heartless Mood All this long Eve so balmy & serene Have I been gazing on the western Sky And it's peculiar Tint of yellow-green -- And still I gaze -- & with how blank an eye! And those thin Clouds above, in flakes & Bars, That give away their Motion to the Stars; Those Stars, that glide behind them or between, Now sparkling, now bedimm'd, but always seen; Yon Crescent Moon, as fix'd as if it grew In it's own cloudless starless Lake of Blue -- A Boat becalm'd! thy own sweet Sky-Canoe! I see them all, so excellently 1 fair! I see, not feel, how beautiful they are! My genial Spirits fail, And what can these avail ____________________ 1 E. H. C. ( Letters, i. 381) reads 'exquisitely'. -816- To lift the smoth'ring Weight from off my Breast? It were a vain Endeavor, Though I should gaze for ever On that green Light, that lingers in the West. I may not hope from outward Forms to win The Passion & the Life, whose Fountains are within. O Wordsworth! we receive but what we give, And in our Life alone does Nature live: Our's is her Wedding-garment, our's her Shroud! And would we aught behold of higher Worth Than that inanimate cold World allow'd To the poor loveless ever-anxious Crowd, Ahl from the Soul itself must issue forth A Light, a Glory, a fair luminous cloud Enveloping the Earth! And from the Soul itself must there be sent A sweet and pow'rful Voice, of it's own Birth, Of all sweet Sounds the Life and Element! O pure of Heart! thou need'st not ask of me What this strong Music in the Soul may be -- What and wherein it doth exist, This Light, this Glory, this fair luminous Mist, This beautiful and beauty-making Power! Joy, blameless Poet! Joy, that ne'er was given Save to the Pure, and in their purest Hour, Joy, William! is the Spirit & the Power That wedding Nature to us gives in Dow[er] A new Earth and new Heaven Undreamt of by the Sensual and the Proud! 1 Joy is that sweet Voice, Joy that luminous cloud -- 2 We, we ourselves rejoice! And thence comes all that charms or ear or sight, All Melodies an Echo of that Voice, All colors a suffusion from that Light! Calm stedfast Spirit, guided from above, O Wordsworth! friend of my devoutest choice, Great Son of Genius I full of Light & Love! Thus, thus dost 3 thou rejoice. ____________________ 1 E. H. C.( Letters, i.382) reads" Undream'd of by the sensual and proud-' 2 ( E. H. C. ( ibid. ) omits this line.Letters, i, 882) reads 'Undream'd of by the sensual and proud --' 3 may'st [Cancelled word in line above.] -817- To thee do all things live from pole to pole, Their Life the Eddying of thy living Soul! Brother & Friend of my devoutest choice, Thus may'st thou ever, ever more rejoice! I have selected from the Poem which was a very long one, & truly written only for 'the solace of sweet Song', all that could be interesting or even pleasing to you -- except indeed, perhaps, I may annex as a fragment a few Lines on the Eolian Lute, it having been introduced in it's Dronings in the 1st Stanza. I have used 'Yule' for Christmas. --- Nay wherefore did I let it haunt my mind This dark distressful Dream? I turn from it, & listen to the Wind Which 1 long has rav'd unnotic'd! What a Scream Of Agony by Torture lengthen'd out That Lute sent forth! 2 O thou wild Storm without, Bare Crag, or mountain Tairn, or blasted Tree, Or Pine-grove, whither Woodman never clomb Or lonely House long held the Witches' Home, Methinks, were fitter Instruments for Thee, Mad Lutanist! that in this month of Showers, Of dark-brown Gardens & of peeping Flowers Mak'st Devil's Yule, with worse than wintry Song The Blossoms, Buds, & timorous Leaves among! Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic Sounds! Thou mighty Poet, even to Frenzy bold! What tell'st thou now about? 'Tis of the rushing of an Host in Rout With many Groans from men with smarting Wounds -- At once they groan with Pain, & shudder with the Cold! But hush! there is a Pause of deepests 3 Silence! Again! -- but all that Noise, as of a rushing crowd, With Groans, & tremulous Shudderings, all is over; And it has other Sounds, less fearful & less loud. A Tale of less affright And temper'd with delight, As thou thyself had'st fram'd the tender Lay -- 'Tis of a little Child Upon a heathy 4 Wild ____________________ 1 That [Cancelled word in line above.] 2 E. H. C. ( Letters, i. 388) reads 'out'. 3 E. H. C. ( ibid. ) reads 'deeper'. 4 E. H. C. ( ibid. 884 ) reads 'heath'. -818- Not far from home -- but she has lost her way; And now moans low in utter Grief & Fear, And now screams loud & hopes to make her Mother hear. -- My dear Sir! ought I to make an apology for troubling you with such a long verse-cramm'd Letter? -- O that instead of it I could but send to you the Image now before my eyes -- Over Bassenthwaite the Sun is setting, in a glorious rich brassy Light -- on the top of Skiddaw, & one third adown it, is a huge enormous Mountain of Cloud, with the outlines of a mountain ----- this is of a starchy Grey-but floating fast along it, & upon it, are various Patches of sack-like Clouds, bags & woolsacks, of a shade lighter than the brassy Light of the clouds that hide the setting Sun -- a fine yellowred somewhat more than sandy Light -- and these the highest on this mountain-shaped cloud, & these the farthest from the Sun, are suffused with the darkness of a stormy Color. -- Marvellous creatures! how they pass along! ----- Remember me with most respectful kindness to Mrs & Miss Sotheby, & the Captains Sotheby ----truly, your's, S. T. Coleridge