Reflections On Having Left a Place of Retirement
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Sermoni propriora. —Hor.
Low was our pretty Cot: our tallest Rose
Peep’d at the chamber-window. We could hear
At silent noon, and eve, and early morn,
The Sea’s faint murmur. In the open air
Our Myrtles blossom’d; and across the Porch
Thick Jasmins twined: the little landscape round
Was green and woody, and refresh’d the eye.
It was a spot which you might aptly call
The Valley of Seclusion! Once I saw
(Hallowing his Sabbath-day by quietness)
A wealthy son of commerce saunter by,
Bristowa’s citizen: methought, it calm’d
His thirst of idle gold, and made him muse
With wiser feelings: for he paus’d, and look’d
With a pleased sadness, and gazed all around,
Then eyed our Cottage, and gazed round again,
And sigh’d, and said, it was a Blessed Place.
And we were blessed. Oft with patient ear
Long-listening to the viewless sky-lark’s note
(Viewless, or haply for a moment seen
Gleaming on sunny wing) in whisper’d tones
I’ve said to my beloved, “Such, sweet girl!
The inobstrusive song of Happiness,
Unearthly minstrelsy! then only heard
When the soul seeks to hear; when all is hush’d,
And the Heart listens!”
But the time, when first
From that low Dell, steep up the stony Mount
I climb’d with perilous toil and reach’d the top,
Oh! what a goodly scene! Here the bleak Mount,
The bare bleak Mountain speckled thin with sheep;
Grey clouds, that shadowing spot the sunny fields;
And River, now with bushy rocks o’erbrow’d,
Now winding bright and full, with naked banks;
And Seats, and Lawns, the Abbey, and the Wood,
And Cots, and Hamlets, and faint City-spire:
The Channel there, the Islands and white Sails,
Dim Coasts, and cloud-like Hills, and shoreless Ocean—
It seem’d like Omnipresence! God, methought,
Had built him there a Temple: the whole World
Seem’d imag’d in its vast circumference.
No wish prophan’d my overwhelmed Heart.
Blest hour! It was a Luxury,—to be!
Ah! quiet dell! dear cot! and mount sublime!
I was constrain’d to quit you. Was it right,
While my unnumber’d brethren toil’d and bled,
That I should dream away th’ entrusted hours
On rose-leaf Beds, pampering the coward Heart
With feelings all too delicate for use?
Sweet is the tear that from some Howard’s eye
Drops on the cheek of One, he lifts from Earth:
And He, that works me good with unmov’d face,
Does it but half: he chills me while he aids,
My Benefactor, not my Brother Man!
Yet even this, this cold Beneficence
Praise, praise it, O my soul! Oft as though scann’st
The Sluggard Pity’s vision-weaving Tribe!
Who sigh for Wretchedness, yet shun the Wretched,
Nursing in some delicious solitude
Their slothful loves and dainty Sympathies!
I therefore go, and join head, heart, and hand,
Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight
Of Science, Freedom, and the Truth in Christ.
Yet oft when after honorable toil
Rests the tir’d mind, and waking loves to dream,
My spirit shall revisit thee, dear Cot!
Thy Jasmin and thy window-peeping Rose,
And Myrtles fearless of the mild sea-air.
And I shall sigh fond wishes—sweet Abode!
Ah!—had none greater! And that all had such!
It might be so—but the time is not yet.
Speed it, O Father! Let thy Kingdom come!
Summary of Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement
- Popularity of “Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement”: “Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a great English mind and poet, first appeared in 1797 as part of his collection of poems entitled Sibylline Leaves. The poem did not achieve immediate popularity upon publication, but it has since become a widely studied and admired work of literature. One of the unique aspects of the poem is Coleridge’s use of language and imagery that he uses to convey his personal reflections on the passage of time and the changes that come with it. Despite having a personal tinge, the poem touches upon universal themes of time and its changes.
- “Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement” As a Representative of the Romantic Movement: The poem is a representative example of the Romantic literary movement that flourished in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The poem reflects on many key themes and characteristics of the Romantic period, including a fascination with nature, a focus on individual emotions and experiences, and a rejection of traditional forms and structures in favor of free-flowing verse. Coleridge’s use of vivid imagery and metaphorical language also reflects the Romantic belief in the power of the imagination to create and shape the world around us. In a nutshell, the poem is a testament to the enduring influence and importance of the Romantic movement in English literature.
- Major Themes in “Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement”: “Reflections On Having Left a Place of Retirement” presents major themes as the contrast between the idyllic life of seclusion and the call to action in service to humanity, the beauty of nature and the spiritual connection it provides, and the struggle to reconcile personal comfort with a sense of duty to the greater good. Coleridge describes the peaceful life he lived in the Valley of Seclusion, surrounded by natural beauty, and the spiritual nourishment he received from it. However, he also recognizes that he cannot simply indulge in a life of ease while others suffer and that he must join the fight for science, freedom, and truth. Despite this sense of duty, Coleridge remains nostalgic for his former life of seclusion, and he wishes that all people could experience such a blessed place. Ultimately, Coleridge recognizes that the time for a utopian society has not yet arrived, but he looks to a future where everyone can find a place of peace and contentment.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement
This poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge demonstrates the use of several literary devices intended to enhance it and have an impact on the reader. The analysis is as follows.
- Alliteration: It is the repetition of the same letter or sounds at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. The line “When the soul seeks to hear when, all is hushed” (line 25) shows the use of alliteration of /s/.
- Allusion: It is an indirect or passing reference to a person, place, event, or literary work. “Sermoni propriora. —HOR” shows a Latin phrase that refers to the Roman poet Horace and his idea of staying close to the common speech.
- Anaphora: It is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences. The repetition “And…” at the beginning of lines 35-36 is a good example of the use of anaphora.
- Antithesis: It is the use of contrasting ideas or words in parallel structure to create a contrast. Line 50, “Sweet is the tear that from some Howard’s eye / Drops on the cheek of One, he lifts from Earth” shows this contrast between “tear” and “lifts” emphasizing the speaker’s appreciation for the compassion of others.
- Assonance: It is the repetition of the same vowel sound in words in close proximity to each other. Lines 24-26 show the use of /i/ sound and /o/ sound, creating harmony.
- Consonance: It is the repetition of consonant sounds in words in close proximity to each other. The lines 13-14 “His thirst of idle gold, and made him muse / With wiser feelings” shows the repetition of the /s/ and /m/ creates a consonant effect that emphasizes the contrast between materialism and reflection.
- Enjambment: It is the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line break, without a pause. The lines 28-29 “From that low Dell, steep up the stony Mount / I climb’d with perilous toil and reach’d the top” show its use as a sense of movement and urgency.
- Hyperbole: It is an exaggerated statement or claims not meant to be taken literally. Lines 39-40 “It seem’d like Omnipresence! God, methought, / Had built him there a Temple” shows the use of the hyperbole of comparing the landscape to a temple emphasizing the speaker’s awe and reverence for nature.
- Imagery: It is the use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. Lines 5-6 “Our Myrtles blossom’d; and across the Porch / Thick Jasmins twined.” Here the use of descriptive language helps create an image in the reader’s mind of the beautiful plants surrounding the cottage.
- Metaphor: It is a comparison between two unlike things. For example, the lines 23-24 “The inobstrusive song of Happiness, / Unearthly minstrelsy!” show gthat Happiness is compared to a song that is quiet and ethereal.
- Personification: It is giving human qualities to non-human things. For example, the line 32, “Grey clouds, that shadowing spot the sunny fields” shows Clouds are given the human quality of being able to cast shadows.
- Simile: It is a comparison between two unlike things using “like” or “as.” For example, lines 21-24, “Gleaming on sunny wing) in whisper’d tones / I’ve said to my beloved, ‘Such, sweet girl! / The inobstrusive song of Happiness, / Unearthly minstrelsy!’” show happiness is compared to a song.
- Symbolism: It is the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. For example, lines 39-41, “It seem’d like Omnipresence! God, methought, / Had built him there a Temple: the whole World / Seem’d imag’d in its vast circumference” show the mountain used as a symbol to represent God’s presence and the vastness of the world.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Reflections On Having Left A Place Of Retirement
Although poetic devices are part of literary devices, some are different in nature and set the mood of the poem and add depth. The analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem is as follows.
- Diction: It is the choice and use of words and phrases in a literary work. Coleridge uses a range of descriptive and emotive language to paint a vivid picture of his idyllic former home.
- Meter: It is the rhythmic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. The poem is primarily written in iambic pentameter, which consists of five iambs (a metrical foot made up of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable) per line.
- Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme in this poem is irregular and varies throughout the poem. However there are some examples of end rhyme in the poem, but overall the poem does not follow a consistent pattern of end rhyme.
- Poem Type: It is a lyric poem, which is a type of poetry that expresses personal thoughts and emotions.
- Stanza: The poem is divided into four stanzas, having different numbers of verses.
- Tone: The tone of the poem is contemplative and nostalgic. Coleridge reflects on the beauty and tranquility of his former home while also acknowledging the guilt he feels for having lived a life of leisure while others suffer.
Quotes to be Used
This quote would be appropriate to use when reflecting on a cherished place or experience that one has had to leave behind. It could be used in a personal essay, a memoir, or even in a speech about the importance of finding moments of peace and tranquility in our lives.
Ah! quiet dell! dear cot! and mount sublime!
I was constrain’d to quit you.