It is a day for cosy, family time and I bet that in most houses there are traditional things being done that have been the practice in families since time began. In my case, once all the chores in preparation for the festivities are done, one of the things I have always enjoyed is a cheery fire in the grate, a comfortable chair and something pleasant to read.
Some people are into poetry and even though some might claim to have little interest in the art I would bet that hanging around in the back of the mind are a few pleasant lines. Perhaps, as in most cases, learned at school or maybe picked up along the way.
I think the most remembered lines are usually linked to nature. Who, for instance, having once heard or read Gerard Manley Hopkins lines,
can ever forget them? I think, perhaps, the whole of the first stanza from SPRING - simply and aptly named - is worth repeating:
I said “aptly” because having now passed mid-winter day we are well on track to reach that most beautiful of seasons with its lengthening days beckoning us towards new growth, hope, positivity and sunshine.
Mention Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834) and most people will sayor, maybe, but there was, of course, much more to Coleridge than that. As well as being a famous poet he was a literary critic, philosopher and theologian. A founder, with his close friend Wordsworth, of the Romantic Movement and one of The Lake Poets, he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture. Coleridge coined many familiar words and phrases, including “suspension of disbelief”.
Throughout his adult life Coleridge had crippling bouts of anxiety and depression and it has been suggested that he had what is now called bipolar disorder, which had not been defined during his lifetime. He was physically unhealthy too, thought to stem from childhood illnesses. He was treated for these conditions with laudanum and this fostered a lifelong opium addiction.
In his much-acclaimed poem,, the poet discusses his childhood experience in a negative manner and emphasises the need to be raised in the countryside. The poem expresses hope that Coleridge’s son, Hartley, would be able to experience a childhood that his father could not and become a true “child of nature”.
Critics claim his view of nature within the poem has a strong Christian element in that Coleridge believed that nature represents a physical presence of God’s word and that the poem is steeped in Coleridge’s understanding of Neopolitanism (a Platonic doctrine and Eastern mysticism, with later influences from Christianity. It holds that all existence consists of emanations from the One with whom the soul may be reunited.) The last ten lines of the poem are particularly beautiful:
I was reminded about Coleridge and his references to nature recently when I came across his beautiful poem,, particularly the first stanza
I remember reading somewhere once that Coleridge rewrote some of Wordsworth’s poems before they were released for publication. I cannot say whether there is truth in it but each time I read a Wordsworth poem I cannot help wondering what, if anything, Coleridge contributed to it. Perhaps the most famous of Wordsworth’s poems isand I am quite certain that the majority of readers of this page will be familiar with it and are reciting some or all of it from memory as they read.
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
Coming to the end my wandering into poetry on this Christmas Eve here is Longfellow’s beautiful Christmas Poem:
Perhaps less well-known than others of his poems, this poem of Wordsworth’s comes to mind, on this day especially, as it ends with the very wish that I make for all my readers, both regular readers and casual readers:
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