Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE REPROOF AND REPLY, by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE REPROOF AND REPLY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fie, mr. Coleridge! - and can this be you
Last Line: "the eighth commandment was not made for bards!""'"
Subject(s): Crime & Criminals


'Fie, Mr Coleridge! -- and can this be you?
Break two commandments? and in church-time too!
Have you not heard, or have you heard in vain,
The birth and parentage-recording strain?
Confessions shrill, that out-shrill'd mack'rel drown --
Fresh from the drop, the youth not yet cut down.
Letter to sweet-heart -- the last dying speech --
And didn't all this begin in Sabbath-breach?
You, that knew better! In broad open day.
Steal in, steal out, and steal our flowers away?
What could possess you? Ah! sweet youth, I fear
The chap with horns and tail was at your ear!'

Such sounds of late, accusing fancy brought
From fair ------- to the Poet's thought.
Now hear the meek Parnassian youth's reply: --
A bow, a pleading look, a downcast eye, --
And then:

'Fair dame! a visionary wight,
Hard by your hill-side mansion sparkling white,
His thoughts all hovering round the Muses' home,
Long hath it been your poet's wont to roam,
And many a morn, on his becharmed sense
So rich a stream of music issued thence
He deem'd himself, as it flowed warbling on,
Beside the vocal fount of Helicon!
But when, as if to settle the concern,
A nymph too he beheld, in many a turn,
Guiding the sweet rill from its fontal urn, --
Say, can you blame? -- No! none that saw and heard
Could blame a bard, that he thus inly stirr'd;
A muse beholding in each fervent trait,
Took Mary ------- for Polly Hymnia!
Or haply as there stood beside the maid
One loftier form in sable stole array'd,
If with regretful thought he hail'd in thee
-------, his long-lost friend, Mol Pomene!
But most of you, soft warblings, I complain!
'Twas ye that from the bee-hive of my brain
Lured the wild fancies forth, a freakish rout,
And witch'd the air with dreams turn'd inside out.

'Thus all conspir'd -- each power of eye and ear,
And this gay month, th' enchantress of the year,
To cheat poor me (no conjurer, God wot!)
And -------'s self accomplice in the plot.
Can you then wonder if I went astray?
Not bards alone, nor lovers mad as they; --
All nature day-dreams in the month of May.
And if I pluck'd each flower that sweetest blows, --
Who walks in sleep, needs follow must his nose.
Thus, long accustom'd on the twy-fork'd hill,
To pluck both flower and floweret at my will;
The garden's maze, like No-man's-land, I tread,
Nor common law, nor statute in my head;
For my own proper smell, sight, fancy, feeling,
With autocratic hand at once repealing
Five Acts of Parliament 'gainst private stealing!
But yet from ------- who despairs of grace?
There's no spring-gun or man-trap in that face!
Let Moses then look black, and Aaron blue,
That look as if they had little else to do:
For ------- speaks, "Poor youth! he's but a waif!
The spoons all right? the hen and chickens safe?
Well, well, he shall not forfeit our regards --
The Eighth Commandment was not made for Bards!"'





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