Love's Apparition and Evanishment: An Allegoric Romance

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772–1834

Like a lone Arab, old and blind,
Some caravan had left behind,
Who sits beside a ruin'd well,
Where the shy sand-asps bask and swell;
And now he hangs his ag{'e}d head aslant,
And listens for a human sound—in vain!
And now the aid, which Heaven alone can grant,
Upturns his eyeless face from Heaven to gain;—
Even thus, in vacant mood, one sultry hour,
Resting my eye upon a drooping plant,
With brow low-bent, within my garden-bower,
I sate upon the couch of camomile;
And—whether 'twas a transient sleep, perchance,
Flitted across the idle brain, the while
I watch'd the sickly calm with aimless scope,
In my own heart; or that, indeed a trance,
Turn'd my eye inward—thee, O genial Hope,
Love's elder sister! thee did I behold
Drest as a bridesmaid, but all pale and cold,
With roseless cheek, all pale and cold and dim,
      Lie lifeless at my feet!
And then came Love, a sylph in bridal trim,
      And stood beside my seat;
She bent, and kiss'd her sister's lips,
      As she was wont to do;—
Alas! 'twas but a chilling breath
Woke just enough of life in death
      To make Hope die anew.

 Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Biography

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the premier poet-critic of modern English tradition, distinguished for the scope and influence of his thinking about literature as much as for his innovative verse. Active in the wake of the French Revolution as a dissenting pamphleteer and lay preacher, he inspired a brilliant generation of writers and attracted the patronage of progressive men of the rising middle class. As William Wordsworth’s . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.