The Aeolian Harp Literary Elements

The Aeolian Harp Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

The poem is written from the first-person point of view of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poet writing in anticipation of his wedding to his fiancée, Sara.

Form and Meter

Blank verse, no discernible meter

Metaphors and Similes

Taylor uses the large-scale metaphor of the Aeolian Harp to represent the mind of the poet as well as the nature of creation. The Aeolian harp makes music when the wind brushes over its strings, and he compares this to the mind of the poet, which produces poetry when caressed with beauty. The harp could also represent creation in Coleridge's temporary pseudo-pantheistic soliloquy: all of creation is filled with inspiration from the wind, which is the divine presence of God.

Alliteration and Assonance

In the first stanza, four consecutive lines begin with the letter S.


Coleridge becomes enthralled with his own vision of a God-filled, almost pantheistic, beautiful reality. Ironically, his fiancée disapproves of this heresy, so Coleridge lets go of this fanciful vision and embraces orthodox Christianity instead.


Philosophical poem


The poem was written in England in 1795 during Coleridge's engagement.


Contemplative, philosophical, Romantic

Protagonist and Antagonist

There isn't a traditional protagonist or antagonist in this poem, just Coleridge trying to deal with the anticipation of his upcoming marriage by writing a philosophical contemplation of marriage, creation, and God.

Major Conflict

Coleridge is engaging in philosophical and Romantic speculation while he anticipates his upcoming marriage; in that sense, the conflict in this poem is Coleridge's own composition as a method of utilizing his nervous energy.


Coleridge's vision of a God-filled, near-pantheistic reality grows and expands until he's nearly consumed by ecstasy, but a disapproving glance from Sara calms his imagination and refocuses his praise on God.


Coleridge's dreamlike description of the Aeolian harp foreshadows his extension of this dreamlike, Romantically optimistic quality to his view of the world, which Sara puts a stop to in the final stanza.


"My pensive Sara! thy soft cheek reclined
Thus on mine arm, most soothing sweet it is." (Stanza 1)


This poem alludes to the Christian religion more than anything else: Coleridge references God and the Christian doctrine of Jesus's sacrifice to redeem mankind from sin and death. There is also a reference to the "star of eve," which is a name for the planet Venus.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

"To sit beside our Cot, our Cot o’ergrown" (line 3)


"The stilly murmur of the distant Sea
Tells us of silence." (lines 11-12)


"It pours such sweet upbraiding, as must needs
Tempt to repeat the wrong!" (lines 17-18)


"Bubbles that glitter as they rise and break
On vain Philosophy’s aye-babbling spring." (lines 57-58)

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