The Aeolian Harp Quotes


"My pensive Sara! thy soft cheek reclined

Thus on my arm, most soothing sweet it is

To sit beside our cot, our cot o'ergrown"

Narrator, Stanza 1

This poem is addressed to Coleridge's fiancee, Sara. He describes her sitting beside him, resting upon his arm. The "cot" referred to here is their theoretical new home. It is overgrown because their marriage will be abundantly blessed. This imagery is both declarative and imaginary as Coleridge is picturing what he hopes their future together will look like.

"How by the desultory breeze caress'd,

Like some coy maid half yielding to her lover,

It pours such sweet upbraiding, as must needs

Tempt to repeat the wrong!"

Narrator, Stanza 2

The lute is the subject of this poetic phrase. As wind blows over the lute, it teases. There are at least two interpretations of this text. The lute could possibly represent Coleridge himself, in which case Sara is the wind which tempts him to take her to bed. Or the lute could be symbolic of their future marriage. Desperate to know what their future will be like, Coleridge is tempted by the wind brushing across the lute, as if the wind held the answers he so desperately wants to know.

"Full many a thought uncall'd and undetain'd,

And many idle flitting phantasies,

Traverse my indolent and passive brain"

Narrator, Stanza 3

Coleridge is getting carried away by thought. He's losing himself in all these theoreticals. In danger of thinking the wrong sorts of things, he acknowledges that things he never wanted to think about or continue to ponder are lingering on his mind.

"And what if all of animated nature

Be but organic Harps diversely fram'd,

That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps

Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,

At once the Soul of each, and God of all?"

Narrator, Stanza 4

What if all living matter is composed of the same thing, which is manifested thought? The harp refers to poetry itself as a form of thought. Thus if all living creatures are poetic and manage to become matter, then they would all be made of the same substance. Coleridge even goes so far in this question as to claim that this unity is divine in nature.

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