Sara Coleridge

Peter Swaab (ed.), Sara Coleridge: Collected Poems

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pg 167Editor’s NoteOn reading my Father's 'Youth and Age'

  •         Sometimes 'tis with a touch of natural grief
  •         That I behold the sere and yellow leaf
  •         I'm fallen into – my summer scarce yet gone,
  •         When th'year should put some solid bravery on:
  •         And think that, had the skies been less unkind,
  •         Nor sent an untimely frost and winter wind
  •         Into my Autumn, it might well have shown
  •         A verdure and luxuriance of its own,
  •         Somewhat more answering to my vernal hour,
  •         When, spite of many a blast and beating show'r,
  •         Not much I lacked of Spring's enchanting dow'r.
  •              But soon some better thoughts I hope to win
  •         I ask, what aspect wears the soul within?
  •         In her do those, who clearest see, descry
  •         The wasted form, wan cheek and sunken eye?
  •         Or hath she put some Autumn bravery on
  •         To recompense for Spring and Summer gone,
  •         And, 'mid the cruel season's wasting stress,
  •         More gained in pow'r than lost in loveliness?
  •         To this my gentle friends shall answer make:
  •         Their thoughts thereon I'll gladly take
  •         For my soul's mirror, and will strive to be
  •         Whate'er that flatt'ring glass reports of me.
  •         This only dare I for myself to say,
  •         That, let me lose or gain what charms I may,
  •         Heav'n grants me more and more a heart t'admire
  •         All beauty that can genial thoughts inspire.
  •         And though this truth no genuine sage assails,
  •         'Less what we have than what we are avails',
  •         Herein to have is surely best by far –
  •         To – gaze – to love – and care not what we are.

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Editor’s Note
Page 167. 'On reading my Father's "Youth and Age"' (RB, 1845?, 'For A. de V.'). In her co-edited volume of STC's poems, SC's note on 'Youth and Age' suggests that the composition of the poem reflected its theme, in that (she argues) its opening seventeen-line verse paragraph was written far later than the 32 lines of its final two paragraphs. Coleridge's poem is a lament for the lost powers of his youth.
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