English - The central paradox
The central paradox
'TIS CALM INDEED! SO CALM, THAT IT DISTURBS
And vexes meditation with its strange
AND EXTREME SILENTNESS' (ll.8-10)
The notion of a calm so great that it disturbs is not only a paradox, but
seems to overturn the idea that Coleridge is in a situation of 'A SOLITUDE,
WHICH SUITS ABSTRUSER MUSINGS' (ll.5-6). If anything, the calm seems to be
disturbing him - and this is the central paradox of the poem: the idea of
quiet stillness-in-the-midst-of-movement or of
movement-in-the-midst-of-quiet stillness. The best example of this paradox
is Coleridge's own active mind in the midst of, and set off by, the extreme
quiet. The silence itself is the provoker of meditation, like the wind in
'The Eolian Harp'. The whole poem is a fine balance of slumberous stillness
and super-sensitive awareness.
From here, Coleridge's consciousness moves outward again, this time to the
wide world outside the cottage.
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