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Module 1: Coleridge The Eolian Harp

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Associations and the one life theme

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Associations and the one life theme

Associations and the one life theme

'O! the one Life within us and abroad...
NOT TO LOVE ALL THINGS IN A WORLD SO FILL'D.' (LL.26-33)

These lines were not in the original 1796 version of the poem, but were
added by Coleridge to later versions of the poem from 1828. The lines refer
very obviously to the Coleridgean theme of the "one life" - the idea that
humanity and nature are essentially unified, and that realisation of this
produces a feeling of profound love. Again, the relation to the physical
context of the poem is important: the beauty of the world around them, and
of the music makes it impossible not to love.

Like the first stanza, this one ends in silence:

'WHERE THE BREEZE WARBLES, AND THE MUTE STILL AIR
IS MUSIC SLUMBERING ON HER INSTRUMENT.' (ll.32-33)

And again, the notion of 'MUSIC SLUMBERING' and the reclining harp
suggests the "chance" association of himself slumbering.

'And thus my Love! as on the midway slope
OF YONDER HILL I STRETCH MY LIMBS AT NOON...'(ll.34-35).

These associations lead to Coleridge seeing himself and his consciousness
as being just like the harp, which has just produced these magical
associations. Listen for these ideas in the following lines (ll. 36-43).

Click on GO and read the extract as you watch and listen: Whilst thro' my
half-clos'd eye-lids I behold
The sunbeams dance, like diamonds, on the main,
And tranquil muse upon tranquillity;
Full many a thought uncall'd and undetain'd,
And many idel flitting phantasies,
Traverse my indolent and passive brain,
As wild and various, as the random gales
THAT SWELL AND FLUTTER ON THIS SUBJECT LUTE!

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