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Module 1: Coleridge Frost at Midnight

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Tone and movement

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XSIQ
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English - Tone and movement

Tone and movement

'THE FROST PERFORMS ITS SECRET MINISTRY' (l.1) Here Coleridge establishes
an air of a magical, quasi-religious process at work in the simple natural
act of the frost falling outside. The line also implies a strong energy at
work - despite this sense of energy, it is silence that is to be the most
overwhelming sense in the poem

'UNHELPED BY ANY WIND'. (l.2) The feeling of extreme stillness is built
up, broken only by the cry of the owlet - a cry which Coleridge uses to
draw the reader into the poem, with the direct address of 'HARK, AGAIN!'
(l.3).

From here, in a typically systolic movement, Coleridge then moves his
attention from outside, and we discover as he moves his attention inward,
that indeed he himself is inside a cottage (l.4) and that the description
of the outside world has been a piece of imagination. Continuing the
narrowing focus, Coleridge then focuses his attention on himself alone
(l.5), and then again outward somewhat onto a sleeping child: 'MY CRADLED
INFANT SLUMBERS PEACEFULLY' (l.7). The innocence of the cradled infant
stands in opposition to the almost sinister secretiveness of the opening
line.

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