To a Deaf and Dumb Little Girl

By Hartley Coleridge 1796–1849 Hartley Coleridge
Like a loose island on the wide expanse,
Unconscious floating on the fickle sea,
Herself her all, she lives in privacy;
Her waking life as lonely as a trance,
Doom’d to behold the universal dance,
And never hear the music which expounds
The solemn step, coy slide, the merry bounds.
The vague, mute language of the countenance.
In vain for her I smooth my antic rhyme;
She cannot hear it. All her little being
Concentrated in her solitary seeing—
What can she know of beauty or sublime?
And yet methinks she looks so calm and good,
God must be with her in her solitude!

Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

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Poet Hartley Coleridge 1796–1849

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Health & Illness, Arts & Sciences, Living, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Biography

Hartley Coleridge was the oldest son of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Although he was the subject of two of his father’s poems—“Frost at Midnight” and “The Nightingale”—Coleridge was nonetheless estranged from his parents in his youth and raised by the poet Robert Southey. Coleridge attended Oxford and received a fellowship to Oriel College. A bright student who was expected to excel, he struggled with alcoholism and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Health & Illness, Arts & Sciences, Living, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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