1797 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christabel. [Part I.]

Christabel; Kubla Khan, a Vision; The Pains of Sleep.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge


A gothic fragment, begun 1797-1800, a time when Samuel Taylor Coleridge had adopted "Satyrane" as his pen-name. He worked at Christabel on and off, and finally published it as a fragment in 1816. Episodes, themes, and characters are Spenserian, Christabel resembling Una and Amoret, Geraldine Duessa and Busirane. Walter Scott had heard an early version of Christabel recited, and borrowed a line and something from the cadence in his Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805).

Lord Byron to Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "On your question with W. Scott, I know not how to speak; he is a friend of mine, and, though I cannot contradict your statement, I must look to the most favourable part of it. All I have ever seen of him has been frank, fair, and warm in regard towards you, and when he repeated this very production it was with such mention as it deserves, and that could not be faint praise. But I am partly in the same scrape myself, as you will see by the enclosed extract from an unpublished poem [Siege of Corinth] which I assure you was written before (not seeing your Christabelle, for that you know I never did till this day), but before I heard Mr. S. repeat it, which he did in June last, and this thing was begun in January and more than half written before the Summer" 27 October 1815; Byron, Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 3:228.

The Champion: "Mr. Coleridge's Poem is at present the standing enigma which puzzles the curiosity of literary circles. What is it all about? What is the idea? Is Lady Geraldine a sorceress? or a vampire? or a man? or what is she, or he, or it? These are questions which we have alternately heard and put; but to which not even those who have thought the subject worth more pains than ourselves, have been so fortunate as to hit upon a satisfactory answer. One friend suggests that the whole is a mere hoax — a silly problem without a solution, — and reminds us that 'true no-meaning puzzles more than wit.' Another thinks it is the result of a wager on the digestive capabilities of the public taste: — and a third declares, that the poem has just the same effect on his temper as if a man were to salute him in the street with a box on the ear, and walk away. Certain it is, that the verses are wrought up in a maze of impenetrable mystery, which to some persons appears the legitimate and successful means of giving it a sort of preternatural horror, — but which is decried by others as nothing more or less than the evasive and unsatisfactory resource of conceited negligence and perverseness" (26 May 1816) 166.

The Examiner: "In parts of Christabel there is a great deal of beauty, both of thought, imagery, and versification; but the effect of the general story is dim, obscure, and visionary. It is more like a dream than reality. The mind, in reading it, is spell-bound. The sorceress seems to act without power — Christabel to yield without resistance. The faculties are thrown into a state of metaphysical suspense and theoretical imbecility. The poet, like the witch in Spenser, is evidently 'Busied about some wicked gin.' — But we do not foresee what he will make of it. There is something disgusting at the bottom of his subject, which is but ill glossed over by a veil of Della Cruscan sentiment and fine writing — like moon-beams playing on a charnel house, or flowers strewed on a dead boy. Mr. Coleridge's style is essentially superficial, pretty, ornamental, and he has forced it into the service of a story which is petrific" (2 June 1816) 349.

Anti-Jacobin Review: "These verses have been ushered into the world by a new species of 'puff direct'; under the auspices of Lord Byron, who, as the newspapers informed the public, had read them in manuscript, and, in a letter to the author, had called Christabel, it seems, a 'singularly wild and beautiful Poem.' The artifice has succeeded so are as to force it into a second edition! for what woman of fashion would not purchase a book recommended by Lord Byron? For our part, we confess, that the perusal of it has excited in our minds, nothing but astonishment and disgust; we have discovered in it, wildness enough to confound common-sense, but, not having the acuteness of the noble bard, the beauty of the composition has wholly eluded our observation" 50 (July 1816) 632.

Augustan Review: "In the words of old Purchas, his genius 'delights more in by-wayes than high-wayes, in things above nature than in things merely natural.' He has some of the spirit of Spenser, and is not without a portion of the romantic tenderness of Collins. He professes himself to be of the school of the divine Spenser; he he certainly possesses a similar talent for embodying abstract ideas with felicity; while he has the same grand fault of making us wind through the mazes of his allegories and similes till we are nearly exhausted. His poetry is made up, in its best parts, of abstractions, adorned with the gorgeous colours of his imagination, and usually expressed in harmonious language. He is apt, however, to make his pictures too gaudy: they want shadows — and, by their excess of brilliancy, the eye is fatigued, and the images rendered indistinct" 3 (July 1816) 15.

Lord Byron to John Murray: "Christabel — I won't have any one sneer at Christabel: it is a fine wild poem" 30 September 1816; Byron, Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1904) 3: 3:369.

Thomas Moore: "One word as to the metre of Christabel, or, as Mr. Coleridge terms it, 'the Christabel' — happily enough; for indeed we doubt if the peculiar force of the definite article was ever more strongly exemplified. He says, that though the reader may fancy there prevails a great irregularity in the metre, some lines being of four, others of twelve syllables, yet in reality it is quite regular; only that it is 'founded on a new principle, namely, that of counting in each line the accents, not the syllables.' We say nothing of the monstrous assurance of any man coming forward coolly at this time of day, and telling the readers of English poetry, whose ear has been tuned to the lays of Spenser, Milton, Dryden, and Pope, that he makes his metre 'on a new principle!' but we utterly deny the truth of the assertion, and defy him to show us any principle upon which his lines can be conceived to tally" Edinburgh Review 27 (September 1816) 64.

European Magazine: "This Poem, as we have before observed, is not heroic, neither is there any thing of Dryden or of Goldsmith in it's composition: little also (though what it does contain includes the worst parts of both) either of Scott or Southey. It is, as Lord Byron says of it, 'wildly original:' his lordship might have added, in some places, 'incoherently unintelligible;' it is not, therefore, to be judged of by comparisons, but by those effects which it produces upon the hearts and imaginations of its readers. It's greatest peculiarity exists in the contrariety of it's combinations, — it's descriptions, — it's incidents, are almost all of them made more imposing by the power of contrasted circumstances" 70 (November 1816) 434-35.

Monthly Review: "When Virgil describes the dead hour of night; when Homer in a still bolder manner strikes out the scene before us; when Shakspeare, boldest, truest, and yet gentlest of all, presents the same picture to our eyes; they all fill their canvas with living objects, and with actual sounds: but they are all equally above that imitative harmony, that affected adaptation of sound to sense, which nothing but German music and German poetry could ever have attempted. They would have started with horror and astonishment from such an effort, in any language, as that which Mr. Coleridge is constantly making; namely, to dignify meanness of conception, to versify the flattest prose, and to teach the human ear a new and discordant system of harmony" NS 82 (January 1817) 23.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge to John Murray: "The corrections and additions to the first two books of the 'Christabel' may become of more value to you when the work is finished, as I trust it will be in the course of the spring, than they are at present. And let it not be forgotten, that while I had the utmost malignity of personal enmity to cry down the work, with the exception of Lord Byron, there was not one of the many who had so many years together spoken so warmly in its praise who gave it the least positive furtherance after its publication. It was openly asserted that the Quarterly Review did not wish to attack it, but was ashamed to say a word in its praise. Thank God! these things pass from me like drops from a duck's back, except as far as they take the bread out of my mouth, and this I can avoid by consenting to publish only for the present times whatever I may write" 26 March 1817; Smiles, in A Publisher and his Friends: Memoir of John Murray (1891) 1:306.

Monthly Magazine: "His poem of Christabel is only fit for the inmates of Bedlam. We are not acquainted in the history of literature with so great an insult offered to the public understanding as the publication of that rapsody of delirium, or with any thing so amusing as the sly roguery of those who, with such matchless command of countenance, ventured to recommend it to attention. It has, no doubt, here and there flashes of poetical expression, as every thing from the pen of Mr. Coleridge cannot but possess. But of coherency, and all that shows the superintendence of judgment or reason in composition, it is void and destitute. The indited ravings of a genuine madness would excite pity for the author, but the author of such a work is beyond compassion" 46 (December 1818) 408.

Henry Nelson Coleridge: "From the natural bent of his genius there is a tendency to the strange, the wild, and mysterious; which, though intolerable in the pursuit of Truth, is yet oftentimes the fruitful parent of the very highest Poetry. To this he adds a power of language truly wonderful, more romantically splendid than Wordsworth's, and more flexible and melodious than that of Southey. Indeed his excellence is so great in this particular, that in my judgment many finished specimens of perfect harmony of thought, passion, measure and rhyme, may be selected from his poems, which will hardly yield the palm to the most celebrated passages in Spenser, Shakspeare, or Milton" Etonian No. IV (1821; 1823) 1:409.

Rufus Dawes: "The poems of Coleridge were altogether of as imaginative cast [than Wordsworth's]; the principal of which are the Ancient Mariner and the unfinished Christabel; the former, remarkable for the power of its supernatural imagery and its strength of colouring; the latter, for the wildness of its conception and the melody of its versification. Had Mr. Coleridge done justice to his own unrivalled abilities, and served the public as his genius required, the present age of poetry had been a new Elizabethan, but the time will come when it will be looked back upon, as we look on the age of Cowley" in "The Modern School of Poetry" The Emerald and Baltimore Literary Gazette 1 (29 March 1828) 1.

Leigh Hunt: "Of all 'the Muse's mysteries,' he is as great a high-priest as Spenser; and Spenser himself might have gone to Highgate to hear him talk, and thank him for his Ancient Mariner" Lord Byron and some of his Contemporaries (1828) 303.

Newcastle Magazine: "though it be true [Spenser] has framed an allegory, yet the various descriptions that compose it are so vivid, so transparent, so full of life and energy, that you are never perplexed, as in reading Christabel, to unravel the mystery" "Poetry of Spenser" NS 8 (October 1829) 449.

Henry Nelson Coleridge: "The thing attempted in Christabel is the most difficult of execution in the whole field of romance — witchery by daylight; and the success is complete. Geraldine, so far as she goes, is perfect. She is sui generis. The reader feels the same terror and perplexity that Christabel in vain struggles to express, and the same spell that fascinates her eyes. Who and what is Geraldine — whence come, whither going, and what designing? What did the poet mean to make of her? What could he have made of her? Could he have gone on much farther without having had recourse to some of the ordinary shifts of witch tales?... We are not amongst those who wish to have Christabel finished. It cannot be finished. The poet has spun all he could without snapping. The theme is too fine and subtle to bear much extension. It is better as it is, imperfect as a story, but complete as an exquisite production of the imagination, differing in form and colour from the Ancient Mariner, yet differing in effect from it only so as the same powerful faculty is directed to the feudal or the mundane phases of the preternatural" "Coleridge's Poetical Wowrks" Quarterly Review 52 (August 1834) 29-30.

John Abraham Heraud: "The versification of Christabel is exquisite; the lines are constructed of accents not of syllables. The former are four, the latter vary from seven to eleven: an excellent contrivance to preserve both uniformity with variety. Some new form of verse seems wanting to modern poetry, and this of Coleridge's invention might have been more generally adopted with advantage" Fraser's Magazine 10 (October 1834) 394.

David Macbeth Moir: "In that tale, the spiritual and material are so exquisitely blended that it is difficult to know where they run into each other. The rhythm consists of a notation of accents, not of syllables — well according with the grotesque imagery, the wild situations, and the fragmental abruptness of the legend. Christabel is said to have been the key-note on which Sir Walter Scott pitched his Lay of the Last Minstrel; indeed, he himself tells us as much, and that its strange music was ever murmuring in his ears; and its publication, after having lain twenty summers in MS. — nearly thrice the Horatian term of probation — was pressed upon its author by Lord Byron, who, in his notes to The Siege of Corinth, rapturously writes of it as 'that singularly wild, and original, and beautiful poem.' The framework is Gothic and the incidents, both natural and supernatural, are in admirable keeping" Sketches of the Poetical Literature of the Past Half-Century (1851; 1852) 86.

Zilla Watts: "I recall an evening passed in [Wordsworth's] society on this occasion in which we discussed poetry, and he repeated to me, at my request, some of his sonnets. I happened to quote some lines from Coleridge's 'Christabel.' He did not dissent from my expressions of admiration of this poem, but rather discomposed me by observing that it was an indelicate poem, a defect which it had never suggested itself to me to associate with it. I was, perhaps, the less prepared for a censure of such a description on his friend Coleridge, as he had just before been talking of Burns, to some of whose writings it might certainly have applied, in terms of cordial admiration. From this, and some other characteristics of his criticism, I could not forbear the impression that his sympathies were rather with his predecessors than his contemporaries in the gentle art" 1864 ca.; Alaric Alfred Watts, Alaric Watts ... by his son (1884) 1:239.

Samuel Smiles: "Lord Byron, while on the managing committee of Drury Lane Theatre, had been instrumental in getting Coleridge's Remorse played upon the stage, as he entertained a respect for the author. He was now encouraging Mr. Murray to publish other works by Coleridge — among others, Zapolya, and Christabel.... For the latter Mr. Murray agreed to give him seventy guineas, 'until the other poems shall be completed, when the copyright shall revert to the author'" Memoirs of John Murray (1891) 1:303.

George A Beers: "Coleridge protested that it 'pretended to be nothing more than a common fairy tale.' But Lowell asserts that it is 'tantalising in the suggestion of deeper meanings than were ever there.' There is, in truth, a hint of allegory, like that which baffles and fascinates in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market; a hint so elusive that the comparison often made between Geraldine and Spenser's Duessa, is distressing to a reader of sensitive nerves. That mystery which is a favourite weapon in the romanticist armoury is used again here with consummate skill. What was it that Christabel saw on the lady's bosom? We are left to conjecture. It was a 'sight to dream of, not to tell,' and the poet keeps his secret. Lamb, whose taste was very fine in these matters, advised Coleridge never to finish the poem" Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century (1901) 82.

George Saintsbury: Thomas Gray's notes on prosody detected "for the first and almost last time, till a comparatively recent period, the secret of Spenser's Oak and Breer and Fox and Kid verses. Whether Coleridge knew these notes before he published Christabel (they were printed by Mathias in 1814), it is impossible to say. But if, by any chance, he could have heard of them while he was at Cambridge (where they were actually lying in MS.) it would throw a great light on what went on about the Quantocks a few years later. At any rate, Gray hits the white. 'The measure, like our usual verse of eight syllables, is dimeter iambic, but admits of trochee, spondee, amphibrachys, anapest, &c., in almost every place'" History of English Prosody (1906-10) 1:554-55.

Thomas McFarland: "The poem is deeply Spenserian. Like the Faerie Queene, Coleridge's poem is uncompleted; like that work, it looks towards an extended continuance; like the earlier poem, this one is a story of knighthood and enchantment, of chivalry and romance" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 170.

Christabel was a source for both Sir Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel and John Keats's Eve of St. Agnes. Writing as "Morgan Odoherty," William Maginn published a burlesque "Christabel, Part Third" in Blackwood's Magazine 5 (June 1819) 286-91. An earlier attempt at a conclusion was published anonymously in the European Magazine prior to the printing of Coleridge's own verses, 67 (April 1815) 315-16. See also a pair of political parodies in St. James's Chronicle, 31 August, 26 September 1826.



'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
And the owls have awakened the crowing cock;
Tu-whit! — Tu-whoo! And hark, again! the crowing cock.
How drowsily it crew.

Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;
From her kennel beneath the rock
She maketh answer to the clock,
Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour;
Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.

Is the night chilly and dark?
The night is chilly, but not dark.
The thin gray cloud is spread on high,
It covers but not hides the sky.
The moon is behind, and at the full;
And yet she looks both small and dull.
The night is chill, the cloud is gray:
'Tis a month before the month of May,
And the Spring comes slowly up this way.

The lovely lady, Christabel,
Whom her father loves so well,
What makes her in the wood so late,
A furlong from the castle gate?
She had dreams all yesternight
Of her own betrothed knight;
And she in the midnight wood will pray
For the weal of her lover that's far away.

She stole along, she nothing spoke,
The sighs she heaved were soft and low,
And naught was green upon the oak
But moss and rarest misletoe:
She kneels beneath the huge oak tree,
And ill silence prayeth she.

The lady sprang up suddenly,
The lovely lady, Christabel!
It moaned as near, as near can be,
But what it is she cannot tell.
On the other side it seems to be,
Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak tree.

The night is chill; the forest bare;
Is it the wind that moaneth bleak?
There is not wind enough in the air
To move away the ringlet curl
From the lovely lady's cheek—
There is not wind enough to twirl
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.

Hush, beating heart of Christabel!
Jesu, Maria, shield her well!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak,
And stole to the other side of the oak.
What sees she there?

There she sees a damsel bright,
Drest in a silken robe of white,
That shadowy in the moonlight shone:
The neck that made that white robe wan,
Her stately neck, and arms were bare;
Her blue-veined feet unsandal'd were,
And wildly glittered here and there
The gems entangled in her hair.
I guess, 'twas frightful there, to see
A lady so richly clad as she—
Beautiful exceedingly!

Mary mother, save me now!
(Said Christabel,) And who art thou?

The lady strange made answer meet,
And her voice was faint and sweet:—
Have pity on my sore distress,
I scarce can speak for weariness:
Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear!
Said Christabel, How camest thou here?
And the lady, whose voice was faint and sweet,
Did thus pursue her answer meet:—

My sire is of a noble line,
And my name is Geraldine:
Five warriors seized me yestermorn,
Me, even me, a maid forlorn:
They choked my cries with force and fright,
And tied me on a palfrey white.
The palfrey was as fleet as wind,
And they rode furiously behind.

They spurred amain, their steeds were white:
And once we crossed the shade of night.
As sure as Heaven shall rescue me,
I have no thought what men they be;
Nor do I know how long it is
(For I have lain entranced I wis)
Since one, the tallest of the five,
Took me from the palfrey's back,
A weary woman, scarce alive.
Some muttered words his comrades spoke:
He placed me underneath this oak;
He swore they would return with haste;
Whither they went I cannot tell—
I thought I heard, some minutes past,
Sounds as of a castle bell.
Stretch forth thy hand (thus ended she),
And help a wretched maid to flee.

Then Christabel stretched forth her hand,
And comforted fair Geraldine:
O well, bright dame! may you command
The service of Sir Leoline;
And gladly our stout chivalry
Will he send forth and friends withal
To guide and guard you safe and free
Home to your noble father's hall.

She rose: and forth with steps they passed
That strove to be, and were not, fast.
Her gracious stars the lady blest,
And thus spake on sweet Christabel:
All our household are at rest,
The hall as silent as the cell;
Sir Leoline is weak in health,
And may not well awakened be,
But we will move as if in stealth,
And I beseech your courtesy,
This night, to share your couch with me.

They crossed the moat, and Christabel
Took the key that fitted well;
A little door she opened straight,
All in the middle of the gate;
The gate that was ironed within and without,
Where an army in battle array had marched out.
The lady sank, belike through pain,
And Christabel with might and main
Lifted her up, a weary weight,
Over the threshold of the gate:
Then the lady rose again,
And moved, as she were not in pain.

So free from danger, free from fear,
They crossed the court: right glad they were.
And Christabel devoutly cried
To the lady by her side,
Praise we the Virgin all divine
Who hath rescued thee from thy distress!

Alas, alas! said Geraldine,
I cannot speak for weariness.
So free from danger, free from fear,
They crossed the court: right glad they were.

Outside her kennel, the mastiff old
Lay fast asleep, in moonshine cold.
The mastiff old did not awake,
Yet she an angry moan did make!
And what can ail the mastiff bitch?
Never till now she uttered yell
Beneath the eye of Christabel.
Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch:
For what can ail the mastiff bitch?

They passed the hall, that echoes still,
Pass as lightly as you will!
The brands were flat, the brands were dying,
Amid their own white ashes lying;
But when the lady passed, there came
A tongue of light, a fit of flame;
And Christabel saw the lady's eye,
And nothing else saw she thereby,
Save the boss of the shield of Sir Leoline tall,
Which hung in a murky old niche in the wall.
O softly tread, said Christabel,
My father seldom sleepeth well.

Sweet Christabel her feet doth bare,
And jealous of the listening air
They steal their way from stair to stair,
Now in glimmer, and now in gloom,
And now they pass the Baron's room,
As still as death, with stifled breath!
And now have reached her chamber door;

And now doth Geraldine press down
The rushes of the chamber floor.
The moon shines dim in the open air,
And not a moonbeam enters here.
But they without its light earl see
The chamber carved so curiously,
Carved with figures strange and sweet,
All made out of the carver's brain,
For a lady's chamber meet:
The lamp with twofold silver chain
Is fastened to an angel's feet.

The silver lamp burns dead and dim;
But Christabel tho lamp will trim.
She trimmed the lamp, and made it bright,
And left it swinging to and fro
While Geraldine, in wretched plight,
Sank down upon the floor below.

O weary lady, Geraldine,
I pray you, drink this cordial wine!
It is a wine of virtuous powers;
My mother made it of wild flowers.

And will your mother pity me,
Who am a maiden most forlorn?
Christabel answered — Woe is me!
She died the hour that I was born.
I have heard the gray-haired friar tell
How on her death-bed she did say,
That she should hear the castle-bell
Strike twelve e upon my Wedding-day.
O mother dear! that thou wert here
I would, said Geraldine, she were!

But soon with altered voice, said she—
Off, wandering mother! Peak and pine!
I have power to bid thee flee.'
Alas! what ails poor Geraldine?
Why stares she with unsettled eye?
Call she the bodiless dead espy?
And why with hollow voice cries she,
'Off, woman, off! this hour is mine—
Though thou her guardian spirit be,
Off, woman, off! 'tis given to me.'

Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side,
And raised to heaven her eyes so blue—
Alas! said she, this ghastly ride—
Dear lady! it hath wildered you!
The lady wiped her moist cold brow,
And faintly said, ''tis over now!'

Again the wild-flower wine she drank:
Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter blight,
And from the floor whereon she sank,
The lofty lady stood upright:
She was most beautiful to see,
Like a lady of a far countree.

And thus the lofty lady spake
'All they who live in the upper sky,
Do love you, holy Christabel!
And you love them, and for their sake
And for the good which me befel,
Even I in my degree will try,
Fair maiden, to requite you well.
But now unrobe yourself; for I
Must pray, ere yet in bed I lie.

Quoth Christabel, So let it be!
And as the lady bade, did she.
Her gentle limbs did she undress,
And lay down in her loveliness.

But through her brain of weal and woe
So many thoughts moved to and fro,
That vain it were her lids to close;
So half-way from the bed she rose,
And on her elbow did recline
To look at the lady Geraldine.
Beneath the lamp the lady bowed,
And slowly rolled her eyes; around;
Then drawing in her breath aloud,
Like one that shuddered she unbound
The cincture from beneath her breast:
Her silken robe, and inner vest,
Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
Behold! her bosom and half her side—
A sight to dream of, not to tell!
O shield her! shield sweet Christabel!

Yet Geraldine nor speaks nor stirs;
Ah! what a stricken look was hers!
Deep from within she seems half-way
To lift some weight with sick assay,
And eyes the maid and seeks delay;
Then suddenly, as one defied,
Collects herself in scorn and pride,
And lay down by the Maiden's side!—
And in her arms the maid she took,
Ah wel-a-day!
And with low voice and doleful look
Those words did say:
'In the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell,
Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel!
Thou knowest to-night, and wilt know to-morrow,
This mark of my shame, this veal of my sorrow;
But vainly thou warrest,
For this is alone in
Thy power to declare,
That in the dim forest
Thou heard'st a low moaning,
And found'st a bright lady, surpassingly fair;
And didst bring her home with thee in love and in charity,
To shield her and shelter her from the damp air.'

THE CONCLUSION TO PART I

It was a lovely sight to see
The lady Christabel, when she
Was praying at the old oak tree.
Amid the jagged shadows
Of mossy leafless boughs,
Kneeling in the moonlight,
To make her gentle vows;
Her slender palms together press,
Heaving sometimes on her breast;
Her face resigned to bliss or bale—
Her face, oh call it fair not pale,
And both blue eyes more bright than clear,
Each about to have a tear.

With open eyes (ah woe is me!)
Asleep, and dreaming fearfully,
Fearfully dreaming, yet, I wis,
Dreaming that alone, which is—
O sorrow and shame! Can this be she,
The lady, who knelt at the old oak tree?
And lo! the worker of these harms,
That holds the maiden in her arms,
Seems to slumber still and mild,
As a mother with her child.

A star hath set, a star hath risen,
O Geraldine! since arms of thine
Have been the lovely lady's prison.
O Geraldine! one hour was thine—
Thou'st had thy will! By tairn and rill,
The night-birds all that hour were still.
But now they are jubilant anew,
From cliff and tower, tu-whoo! tu-whoo!
Tu-whoo! tu-whoo! from wood and fell!

And see! the lady Christabel
Gathers herself from out her trance;
Her limbs relax, her countenance
Grows sad and soft; the smooth thin lids
Close o'er her eyes; and tears she sheds—
Large tears that leave tho lashes bright!
And oft the while she seems to smile
As infants at a sudden light!

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,
Like a youthful hermitess,
Beauteous in a wilderness,
Who, praying always, prays in sleep.
And, if she move unquietly,
Perchance, 'tis but the blood so free
Comes back and tingles in her feet.
No doubt, she hath a vision sweet.
What if her guardian spirit 'twere,
What if she knew her mother near?
But this she knows, in joys and woes,
That saints will aid if men will call:
For the blue sky bends over all!

[E. H. Coleridge (1912) 1:215-26]