Sara Coleridge

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

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Editor’s Note'O vain expenditure! unhallowed waste!'

  •           O vain expenditure! unhallowed waste!
  •           Thus to bestow on the swathed infant heir
  •           Full flowing robes, too large for him to wear! –
  •           On his frail head, as if in mockery, placed
  •           That crown with which the ample brows are graced
  •           Of saints who, proud their Saviour's cross to bear,
  •           His blessed steps pursue with ceaseless care,
  •           Through arduous ways to do His bidding haste!
  •           Why should we give to the close-folded rose
  •           Those glowing tints that glad the gazer's eye?
  •           Soon shall it brightly blossom where it grows;
  •           Or, if at once transported to the sky,
  •           Such colours in that temperature disclose
  •           As here e'en light from heaven could ne'er supply.
  • pg 189          The Infant soul is as a frozen lake,
  •           O'er which Heav'n smiles and playful breezes stray;
  •           It cannot smile as yet, nor lightly play,
  •           Nor of the skies one soft bright image take.
  •           But soon the slumbering waters are awake,
  •           Released from durance by the kindly ray;
  •           Then see it laugh beneath the eye of Day!
  •           Its lapsing bosom every breath can shake,
  •           Unconsciousness, our spirits' primal frost,
  •           Yields, 'sure as day to night', to Pow'r supreme:
  •           How unlike that which not the fervid beam
  •           Of Love can melt, in souls for ever lost! –
  •           Amid that genial warmth self-frozen – grown
  •           No transient ice but undissolving stone!

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Editor’s Note
Page 188. 'O vain expenditure! unhallowed waste!', published in Aids to Reflection (sixth edition, 2 vols, 1848) ii. 313–14. SC is arguing that given the limited capacities of the infant, regeneration cannot be accomplished by infant baptism. Compare 'Mystic Doctrine of Baptism' above, pp. 193–4. Line 24: '"Sure as day to night"' – perhaps alluding to Polonius's 'it must follow as the night the day / Thou canst not then be false to any man' (Hamlet, 1.iii.78–9).
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