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Module 1: Coleridge Frost at Midnight

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Themes and rhythm

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XSIQ
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English - Themes and rhythm

Themes and rhythm

Click on GO and read the extract as you watch and listen:

My babe so beautiful ! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes ! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars
But _thou_, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
AND MOUNTAIN CRAGS : (11.48-58)

The idea that his son will be reared not in the 'GREAT CITY, PENT', but
amid the lakes and mountains is a great source of joy for Coleridge - a
typically Romantic position. As you read these lines, continue to be aware
of the systolic rhythm of the poem - Coleridge has moved into his own past,
from there to the present of the child and from there to the imagined
future of the child:

These lines pick up two crucial Romantic themes:

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that the unity of humans with nature brings "Joy"
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that there is an essential unity within all nature itself (note how the
mountains and lakes are reflected in the clouds).

A third Romantic theme occurs in the immediately following lines, in which
the systolic movement reaches out to Coleridge's god and raises the theme
of the essential unity of humanity, God and Nature - with Nature itself
being seen as the language of God:

'... so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
HIMSELF IN ALL, AN ALL THINGS IN HIMSELF' (ll.58-62)

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