Thursday, 19 December 2013

Frost at Midnight

Someone told me that my post about Jack Frost, had made them think of a poem by Samuel Coleridge, called "Frost at Midnight ".

I looked it up on Wikipedia and it was very interesting. It said it was considered to be the best of the Conversation poems.
Coleridge was born in a beautiful part of the country, in Ottery St Mary in Devon, but when he was 9 he had to go away to Boarding School and was very unhappy. This, and other personal experiences are all in the poem. He wrote it in 1798, when he was 26. The way nature is portrayed in the poem is inspired by Wordsworth's descriptions of the Lake District. Coleridge and Wordsworth were great friends at the time. Coleridge met  Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, on a walk in Dorset. Their great friendship shaped their lives for 14 years and became one of the most creative partnerships in English Romanticism. They all three shared a great love of poetry,critical discussion, and hill-walking They also loved talking about we would call Politics. Don't forget that The French revolution was going on, so they must have had a lot to talk about.
It's nice to think of them walking about in the beautiful English countryside, trying to sort out the world. Just like us today (ha ha!)

The poem is quite long, so I'm just going to write the last verse because that seems to be where he mentions frost.

Therefore all seasons  shall be sweet to thee
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple tree, while the nigh natch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the Secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

It's lovely isn't it?
Coleridge was very aware of the delight to be found in growing up in the countryside.
I agree with him. It brings to mind the story "The town mouse and the country mouse" by Beatrix Potter. I once taught at a school in London, the pupils went on a special trip to stay on a farm. they didn't like it at all and couldn't wait to get back to the city.

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