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Frost At Midnight Analysis

Author: Poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Type: Poetry Views: 8208

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The Frost performs its secret ministry,

Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry

Came loud--and hark, again ! loud as before.

The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,

Have left me to that solitude, which suits

Abstruser musings : save that at my side

My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.

'Tis calm indeed ! so calm, that it disturbs

And vexes meditation with its strange

And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,

This populous village ! Sea, and hill, and wood,

With all the numberless goings-on of life,

Inaudible as dreams ! the thin blue flame

Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not ;

Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.

Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature

Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,

Making it a companionable form,

Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit

By its own moods interprets, every where

Echo or mirror seeking of itself,

And makes a toy of Thought.

[Image] [Image] [Image] [Image]But O ! how oft,

How oft, at school, with most believing mind,

Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,

To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft

With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt

Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,

Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang

From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,

So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me

With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear

Most like articulate sounds of things to come !

So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,

Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams !

And so I brooded all the following morn,

Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye

Fixed with mock study on my swimming book :

Save if the door half opened, and I snatched

A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,

For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,

Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,

My play-mate when we both were clothed alike !

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,

Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,

Fill up the intersperséd vacancies

And momentary pauses of the thought !

My babe so beautiful ! it thrills my heart

With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,

And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,

And in far other scenes ! For I was reared

In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,

And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.

But thou, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze

By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags

Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,

Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores

And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear

The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible

Of that eternal language, which thy God

Utters, who from eternity doth teach

Himself in all, and all things in himself.

Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould

Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,

Whether the summer clothe the general earth

With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing

Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch

Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch

Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall

Heard only in the trances of the blast,

Or if the secret ministry of frost

Shall hang them up in silent icicles,

Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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gudmrng. and thanx by this summary i have just fully learn and understood the poem. it\'s really good.:)

| Posted on 2012-07-17 | by a guest

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thank you this summary helped me alllooot to understand the poem.

| Posted on 2012-02-15 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2011-12-01 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2011-09-17 | by a guest

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himself in all and all in himself could have been exained even more.. but this was gr8 ! very helpful..

| Posted on 2011-08-15 | by a guest

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You can read my analysis of \'Frost at Midnight\' x

| Posted on 2011-06-13 | by a guest

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d3fo bRaH i LyKd h1+ uP d15 pO3M nD +0+35 f377 1n 70v3 w1F dA 3nDiNg tw45 uB3r 43ck3rz 4 ma 40mi35. +h@nK U 4 l15+3nin 2 ma sppech.

| Posted on 2010-10-13 | by a guest

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OmG wat a l33t p03m I L0v£d c0s i is h@x03r omfg lulz pwning n00bs whith m@ sw0rd 0f @ th0us@nd thrVths

| Posted on 2010-09-30 | by a guest

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The use of the verse monologue makes Keats and the other Romantic poets forerunners of the modern stream of consciousness technique. The difference could be detected in the approach to memories, which is still rational in the Romantics, while it becomes a free flow of thoughts apparently lacking any logical sequence in the modernist writers. Coleridge and Wordsworth still believed in the ethical commitment of the poets, who had to convey a convincing and sometimes consolatory message; what has been lost in the contemporary literature.

| Posted on 2010-09-08 | by a guest

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This summary is just brilliant. Amazing. I missed this class in school, and the five minutes it took to read this made up for everything. Thanks.

| Posted on 2010-03-01 | by a guest

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To claim that the "film" is a metaphor for the Industrial Revolution is tempting (and several contributions have suggested this link), however, I would suggest that this was not the intent of Coleridge. I say this because the film shares "sympathies" with the persona - who is undoubtedly a Romantic - and it is certain that no Romantic would have "sympathies" with anything related to the Industrial revolution. Instead, nature (the "film") is used as a catalyst of recollection. This demonstration of the 'power' of the natural is a common Romantic theme, one which I believe is present in this poem rather than any tenuous metaphorical link.

| Posted on 2009-10-28 | by a guest

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This poem rocks. The summary is kickass! Really helpful for your exams!

| Posted on 2009-09-06 | by a guest

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Your analysis was very useful to me as i have to study this poem for school and what you have said was the same thing our teacher taught.

| Posted on 2009-07-31 | by a guest

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i think that trying to decipher what the poet was thinking and why he was using certain words is totally futile.

| Posted on 2009-04-02 | by a guest

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The "conversational" tone that has constantly been referred to is correctly known as iambic pentameter, and is a technique famously used by Shakespeare (among others) in his Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? etc). It ties in with the relatively everyday language that Coleridge uses in this poem as a tool to make the poem accessible to all.

| Posted on 2008-07-26 | by a guest

.: frost at midnight :.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes his surroundings in his secluded lonesome utopia as Sea hill and wood / Sea and hill and wood (910). He first uses these three words to describe This populous village (11) but next uses them to describe all the numerous goings on of life (12). The phrases repetition suggests a second meaning perhaps in order to describe his personal journey in his utopia. Coleridge embodies natures beauties its sea hill and wood as different stages of hi

| Posted on 2008-01-17 | by a guest

.: Frost at Midnight :.

The first section of the poem describes the tranquil scene around the speaker of the poem. All is quiet, and the calmness makes it a perfect time for the speaker to think without interruptions. The speaker introduces his "cradled infant" especially because it is the infant that he is thinking about, late at midnight. He is concerned for the future of his young baby. On the "low-burnt fire" there is a small fluttering piece of soot or a "film", which the speaker finds companionable because it is the only moving thing in the room, apart from himself. The film "flaps and freaks", fluttering uncontrollably on the fire-plce grate, just as his thoughts flutter wildly, with no control.

In the second section, the speaker remembers when he was a child in school, and how he saw a similar film on the bars of his school windows. He felt trapped at school, and disliked it greatly. Instead of concentrating on his studies, he would stare absently at the fluttering "stranger" or film, which predicted the coming of an absent friend. In class, he daydreamt of his "birth-place" where there were sweet church-bells that everyone could listen to day and night "all the hot Fair-day". He ruefully remembers how he was brought up in the "great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim" and how he saw "nought lovely but the stars and sky". He did not enjoy his life in the city where he felt trapped. As a child he was not one with nature. These thoughts eventually lulled him to sleep, and his day dreams then turned into dreams. This lack of concentrtion in class caused him problems when he went back to school the "following morn", but he still kept thinking about the film, anticipated the coming of an absent friend, and thought about his birth-place. But, if the classroom door opened the slightest, the boy would immediately look up, hoping it was a "townsman, aunt or sister more beloved" which the fluttering stranger had predicted would come to visit. He wanted someone he could relate to- not his teacher. Above all, he wanted somebody to take him away from school.

In the last section, the speaker is adressing his cradled baby. As all good fathers do, he praises the beauty of his child, and imagines that his child will grow up happily. Instead of being stuck in the city like he was as a child, his baby will learn "far other lore in far other scenes", amidst lakes and shores and mountains. He imagines that his child will learn from nature, and this way, he will love school. He wants God to mold his child's soul, so that "by giving, make it (the child) ask". God will give, but the child will not take, he will continue asking for more. Through the "eternal language", which is nature, God will make his child's soul, a good one.
And because of this, "all seasons shall be sweet" to him, whether in the summer, when the earth is clad in green and the birds sing, or in the winter when the "frost performs it's secret ministry". His child will love all.

| Posted on 2006-05-23 | by Approved Guest

.: Frost at midnight :.

The poem "Frost at midnight" is a conversational poem that outlines the beliefs and ways of the romantic poets. This poem reflects the imagination in relation to the surrounding's of the speaker (in this case Coleridge) and is brought out by talking about the past, present and future of childhood. In this poem Coleridge talks about his childhood and reflects on by talking about his surroundings, "film", which in this case means soot and is a metaphor for the industrial revolution and the effects it had on the people (Coleridge) at the time. This peom talks about frost as "silent ministry" which celebrates the glorious aspects of nature. Coleridge talks about his son that is near him in reality and hope that one day he will, "wander like a breeze". This signifies that Coleridge hopes that his son will experience life by soaring like the wind and expericing eveything that the wind does.

| Posted on 2006-04-03 | by Approved Guest

.: // :.

This, the most famous of the conversation poems in blank verse, was written at Nether Stowey in 1798 and was included in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads later that year.

The first twenty-three lines set the scene. It is a cold and silent night in February. Everyone in the household is asleep except the poet, who is sitting by a dying fire. His infant son sleeps in a cradle nearby. 'The only thing moving in the room is a film of soot flapping in the grate of the fire. This black film, called a "stranger," was commonly believed to indicate that an absent friend would arrive soon.

In the second part of the poem (lines 24 to 43), the sight of the "stranger" reminds Coleridge of seeing the same phenomenon in the fire when he was a lonely school boy in London. At that time the "stranger" had made him think of the village where he was born. These memories had stayed with him the next day, interfering with his study and arousing hopes that someone from his village might come to visit him at school. It is an image from a lonely boyhood.

In lines 44 to 64 the poet addresses his sleeping son, admiring the beauty of the infant and predicting that instead of growing up in a closed city, as he did, the boy will grow up in the freedom of the countryside, close to nature and benevolently affected by the spirit of God that is in nature. Therefore, the poet concludes, his son will find all seasons sweet. The poem returns at the end to the cold and frosty moonlit night that inspires the poet's meditations.

"Frost at Midnight" is a typical romantic poem in that it unites the present scene with memories of a similar scene and looks ahead to the future, ending in joy or, at least, calm. It can be compared with Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," for example.

| Posted on 2005-12-04 | by Approved Guest

.: Frost at Midnight :.

In Coleridge’s poem “Frost at Midnight” the speaker lets the reader glimpse into the mind and imagination of a father holding his babe late at night. In the cottage where the speaker lives it is so quiet, that his mind begins to wander. “Tis Calm indeed! So calm, that it disturbs and vexes meditation with its strange and extreme silentness.” The speaker begins to lose himself in his memories. These adulthood and childhood memories are connected together through an adult memory. “Already I had dreamt of my sweet birthplace, and the old church tower, whose bells, the poor man’s only music, rang from morn to evening, all the hot fair-day.”
This poem created in 1798, it uses blank verse to move back and forth between Coleridge’s use of lofty meditation and imagery in his surroundings. The setting plays an important role in the poem itself. “The Frost performs its secret ministry, unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry came loud---and hark, again! Loud as before.” Coleridge uses words such as secret ministry to explain the atmosphere around the cottage. Animals like the owl let the reader know it is calm and pleasant nearby.
The different types of symbols that surround the speaker act as gates to the past. For example, “With all the numberless goings-on of life, inaudible as dreams! The thin blue flame lies on my low-burnt fire and quivers not.” These lines in the poem show the reader that this fire, as calm and relaxed as it may seem to appear, has a feeling which causes him to go into a recollection state-of-mind to his childhood. The speaker uses an euphony tone to keep the readers in a state of ease.

| Posted on 2005-10-24 | by Approved Guest

.: core romantic beliefs in :.

Coleridge's poem "Frost At Midnight" conveys many beliefs of the romantic movement. Firstly, Coleridge says that sympathises with the 'film', and further goes on to say 'with me who live'. film, being ash, is something that is burnt and was most likely wood before it was burnt. This symbolises the industrial revolution and the people (including coleridge) who were affected by it. He was saying, that all the people were now dead, living their lives to work because they had to, not because they wanted to.The juxtaposition of film and 'with me who live' conveys this message. Furthermore, Coleridge spoke about the destruction of nature into something that is soulless and weak ('puny'). He then goes on to say that people are searching for their souls and are scared of who they are. he also says that the people's lives are empty, or otherwise filled with fear. all of this is expressed in the last part of the first stanza.'freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself'
The third stanza particularly conveys the beliefs of the romantics. Once again anti-revolutionist views are expressed as he talks about the wonders of nature compared to city dwelling. Furthermore, coleridge expresses another key idea of the romantics through the line 'but thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze'. Coleridge talks about freedom as something his child deserves, and in fact all children. He wants their future to be bright- hence came his and other romantics' idea to set up a new utopian society, however this plan fell through. By referring to freedom as a 'breeze' we can notice how to coleridge freedom meant nature- another key romantic idea.
Lastly, in the third stanza, we are alerted to coleridge's unitarian beliefs. Much of the romantics dismissed the idea of 'the holy trinity', instead believing that god was nature, the earth and everything in it,'himself in all, and all things in himself'. To be taught by nature, instead of by a teacher, you would be taught by god.
Thankyou for reading my thoughts!

| Posted on 2005-10-22 | by Approved Guest

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The speaker in 'Frost at Midnight' is Coleridge himself, and the poem is a hushed, individual evaluation of three significant themes of early English Romanticism: the effect of nature on the imagination, the relationship between children and the natural world, and the relationship between adulthood and childhood as they are linked in the memory of an adult. Coleridge perfected a characteristic pattern of connecting description and meditation in ‘Frost at Midnight’ that his collaborator Wordsworth would later employ in ‘Tintern Abbey’. Like many Romantic verse monologues of this kind, ‘Frost at Midnight’ is written in blank verse, which complements the spontaneous, impulsive nature of a poem containing both retrospective and forward-looking visions. Comprising four stanzas of varying length, its metric flexibility and the natural, conversational tone reflect Wordsworth’s claim in the ‘Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’ (1802) that ‘all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.’ In the ‘Preface’, Wordsworth elaborates on this particular point by describing poetry as ‘[taking] its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity’ – it exists as the emotions that come while one reflects on the past, which are then harnessed in words. In ‘Frost at Midnight’, set late one winter’s night when his family is asleep, Coleridge finds himself in just such a peaceful situation when he can think at length. Indeed, the wave of emotion that the Wordsworthian poet ‘recollects in tranquillity’ resembles the ‘intellectual breeze’ running over Coleridge’s own ‘Eolian Harp’ - a ‘tranquil muse upon tranquillity.’

To convey ideas relating to the central themes, ‘Frost at Midnight’ relies on a highly personal form of expression whereby the reader follows the progression of the thoughts of the speaker. His observations sketch for the reader an impression of the scene, from the ‘silent ministry’ of the frost to the sleeping child cradled nearby. The objects surrounding the speaker become metaphors for the work of the mind and the imagination, so that the fluttering film on the fire grate turns him towards recollection of his childhood. His memory of feeling trapped in the schoolhouse naturally brings him back into his immediate surroundings with a sudden rush of feeling for his son. His final meditation on his son’s future becomes mingled with his Romantic interpretation of nature and its role in the child’s imagination. This association of nature and the mind expresses itself in two ways. The landscape was on one hand regarded as an extension of the human personality, capable of sympathy with man’s emotional state. This can be seen in ‘Frost at Midnight’ when Coleridge says that his son some day ‘shalt wander like a breeze’, enjoying the kind of freedom the wind ‘enjoys’ in the world. On the other hand, nature was regarded as a vehicle for spirit just as mankind, in that the breath of God fills both people and the earth. This is also apparent in the Text 2 extract, when Coleridge describes God as ‘teaching himself in all’ – that is, in the ‘language’ of the natural landscape, where, if his son should spend time, he will find that his ‘spirit’ will be moulded by that great ‘universal Teacher’.

The delights of unspoiled scenery and the innocent life of rural dwellers were popular Romantic themes, and it is for this reason that in ‘Frost at Midnight’ Coleridge explicitly states that he hopes his child will enjoy a youth spent in the countryside where he will be, in effect, at one with divinity. One of the fundamentals of Romanticism is the belief in the natural goodness of man, the idea that in a state of nature people would behave well but are hindered by civilisation. It is against this impediment that Coleridge writes in ‘Frost at Midnight’, and the idea of man’s natural goodness and the importance of emotion also contributed to the development of Romantic individualism, which perhaps accounts for why Coleridge, among other Romantic poets, were moved to write introspective poems in a similar vein. However, while the poem articulates ideas about several conventions of Romanticism, it is also problematic in that it highlights a key difference between Coleridge and his fellow Romantics, specifically Wordsworth. Wordsworth, who was raised in the countryside, saw his own childhood as a time when his bond with the natural world was at its strongest. He revisited his memories of childhood in order to soothe his feelings and stimulate his imagination, as demonstrated in the first books of ‘The Prelude’. Coleridge, contrarily, was raised in London, ‘pent ‘mid cloisters dim,’ and challenges the Wordsworthian identification of childhood with a kind of guaranteed happiness. Rather than seeing the link between childhood and nature as something that inevitably forms and stays with one forever, Coleridge seems to perceive it as a fragile, precious, even miraculous connection, one of which he was deprived. Indeed, in ‘Frost at Midnight’ he says that, as a child, he ‘saw naught lovely but the stars and sky’ and seems to feel the lingering effects of that separation from the natural world unto the time of the poem’s present. This pain and alienation naturally leads to Coleridge eagerly hoping that his child will enjoy a more idyllic upbringing ‘by lakes and … beneath the crags / Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds.’

S. Stedman

| Posted on 2005-01-09 | by Approved Guest

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