Wordsworth’s great collaborator on the 1798 collection Lyrical Ballads was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Written in 1798, the same year that Lyrical Ballads appeared, ‘Frost at Midnight’ is a night-time meditation on childhood and raising children, offered in a conversational manner and focusing on several key themes of Romantic poetry: the formative importance of childhood and the way it shapes who we become, and the role nature can play in our lives.
Frost at Midnight
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits Read the rest of this entry
There’s a story behind the poem ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’. During the summer of 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s wife ‘accidentally emptied a skillet of boiling milk on my foot, which confined me during the whole time of C[harles] Lamb’s stay’. As a result, Coleridge was forced to stay behind at home while his friends went for a walk across the Quantocks. He chose to sit under the lime-tree in his friend Thomas Poole’s garden, and this moment of solitude occasioned one of Coleridge’s most famous poems.
This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
[Addressed to Charles Lamb, of the India House, London]
Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost Read the rest of this entry
Coleridge, the co-author with Wordsworth of Lyrical Ballads, was born in Ottery St Mary in Devon in 1772. The village is named for the river which passes through it – the river which Coleridge eulogises in this Romantic sonnet, ‘To the River Otter’, recalling his childhood when he skimmed stones along the river’s surface:
Sonnet: To the River Otter
Dear native Brook! wild Streamlet of the West!
How many various-fated years have past,
What happy and what mournful hours, since last
I skimm’d the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
Numbering its light leaps! yet so deep imprest
Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes
I never shut amid the sunny ray, Read the rest of this entry