To Coleridge

Artistic innovations can be economic juggernauts. But the path to artistic greatness is rarely straightforward. The famous British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge didn’t finish several big projects. That is good, writes Malcolm Guite in MARINER. If Coleridge had worked on those projects, which were not very innovative, he’d not have engaged in as much of his own poetry which changed the course of English literature.

The morning sun bursts through the maple’s leaves
Illuminating spiders’ silver webs.
The hosta and rose I can now perceive
Are woven together. As the dawn ebbs
The glittering unifying cords fade
From perception. I smile. Perception!
Perception is Imagination’s bondmaid.
Is She a projection¬–a deception?
Or the echoes of a creative light
That require a lifetime for my eyes
To reckon with, to befriend, to delight?
I catch glimpses. My perception belies
The truth. And yet, light still calls to light
From Eden’s dawn to my dimmed inner sight.

This poem was inspired by Malcolm Guite’s discussion of Coleridge’s distinctions between fancy and imagination. That discussion can be found here, around 33:15.