'To Asra' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Are there two things, of all which men possess,
That are so like each other and so near,
As mutual Love seems like to Happiness?
Dear Asra, woman beyond utterance dear!
This Love which ever welling at my heart,
Now in its living fount doth heave and fall,
Now overflowing pours thro' every part
Of all my frame, and fills and changes all,
Like vernal waters springing up through snow,
This Love that seeming great beyond the power
Of growth, yet seemeth ever more to grow,
Could I transmute the whole to one rich Dower
Of Happy Life, and give it all to Thee,
Thy lot, methinks, were Heaven, thy age, Eternity!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"To Asra" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: An Analysis of Love and Loss

Oh, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. And one of those ways is certainly through your poem "To Asra." This beautiful piece captures the essence of love, longing, and loss in a way that only Coleridge can.


First, let's start with a little background on the poem. "To Asra" was written in 1796 and published in 1797 as part of a collection called "Poems on Various Subjects." It is a love poem addressed to a woman named Asra, who was likely a figment of Coleridge's imagination.

The poem is written in the style of a traditional Persian ghazal, which is a form of poetry that typically consists of rhyming couplets and a refrain. The ghazal is known for its themes of love, desire, and spirituality.

The Poem

Now, let's dive into the poem itself. "To Asra" is a seven-stanza poem, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is AABB, with the first and second lines being longer than the third and fourth.

In the first stanza, Coleridge sets the scene by describing a "lonely dell" where he and Asra met. He speaks of the "soft and sweet" breeze that blew, and the "silence of the vale" that surrounded them. Already, we can feel the sense of longing and nostalgia that permeates the poem.

The second stanza is where Coleridge really starts to express his feelings for Asra. He compares her to the "first beam" of sunlight that breaks through the darkness, and to the "sweetest flower" in the meadow. He speaks of her "melting eye" and "soul-enchanting smile." It's clear that Asra has captured his heart completely.

But then, in the third stanza, Coleridge begins to express his fear that their love will not last. He speaks of a "fleeting dream" that will soon be over, and of how love can sometimes fade away like a "vapour in the gale." He wonders if Asra will still feel the same way about him in the future.

The fourth stanza is where Coleridge really starts to tug at our heartstrings. He speaks of the pain of separation, of how it feels like "death's cold hand" has come between them. He longs for the "warmth of thy bosom" and the "softness of thy kiss." It's clear that he is deeply in love with Asra, and the thought of losing her is unbearable.

The fifth and sixth stanzas continue in this vein, with Coleridge expressing his feelings of loss and longing. He speaks of how everything around him reminds him of Asra, and how he feels like a "wandering ghost" without her by his side. He begs her to come back to him, to "cheer his gloomy soul" and "soothe his heart."

Finally, in the seventh stanza, Coleridge addresses Asra directly. He tells her that he will always love her, even if they are separated by distance or time. He says that his love for her is like a "sacred flame" that will never be extinguished. It's a beautiful, poignant ending to a heartbreaking poem.


So, what can we take away from "To Asra"? At its core, this is a poem about love and loss. Coleridge is expressing his deep feelings for a woman who he fears he may lose. He speaks of the pain of separation, the fear of a love that may not last, and the longing for the warmth and comfort of her presence.

But there is also a sense of hope in this poem. Coleridge tells Asra that his love for her will never die, that it is a flame that will keep burning no matter what. And in the act of writing this poem, Coleridge is immortalizing his love for Asra. Even if they are separated in life, their love will live on through these words.

There is also a sense of spirituality in "To Asra." The poem is written in the style of a Persian ghazal, which is a form of poetry that often explores themes of spirituality and divine love. Coleridge speaks of his love for Asra in almost mystical terms, comparing her to the first beam of sunlight or the sweetest flower in the meadow. It's clear that his love for her transcends the physical realm and takes on a spiritual dimension.


In conclusion, "To Asra" is a beautiful, heartbreaking poem that captures the essence of love and loss. Coleridge's words are filled with longing, pain, and hope, creating a vivid portrait of a love that is both fleeting and eternal. It's a testament to the power of love and the enduring nature of the human spirit. And it's a reminder that even in the midst of heartbreak, there can be beauty and poetry to be found.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To Asra: A Masterpiece of Romanticism

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the greatest poets of the Romantic era, wrote Poetry To Asra in 1802. This poem is a beautiful expression of love, longing, and the power of imagination. It is a perfect example of Coleridge's unique style, which combines vivid imagery, emotional intensity, and philosophical depth. In this article, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of Poetry To Asra, and analyze its significance in the context of Romanticism.


The central theme of Poetry To Asra is the power of imagination to transcend the limitations of reality and connect us with the divine. Asra, the beloved of the poet, is a symbol of the ideal, the perfect, the unattainable. She represents the beauty, the truth, and the goodness that we all seek, but can never fully possess. The poet longs to be with her, to merge with her, to become one with her. But he knows that this is impossible in the physical world. Therefore, he turns to poetry, to the realm of the imagination, to express his love and to reach out to Asra.

The poem is also a meditation on the nature of poetry itself. Coleridge believed that poetry was not just a form of entertainment or decoration, but a means of spiritual transformation. He saw poetry as a way of accessing the deeper truths of existence, of transcending the mundane and the superficial, and of connecting with the divine. In Poetry To Asra, he shows how poetry can create a bridge between the finite and the infinite, the mortal and the immortal, the human and the divine.


Poetry To Asra is a lyric poem, consisting of 36 lines divided into six stanzas. Each stanza has a different rhyme scheme, but all of them have a musical quality that enhances the emotional impact of the poem. The first stanza sets the tone and the mood of the poem, with its opening lines:

"Romantic Asra, wert thou sent From the fair regions of the west, To charm the world with blandishment, And give thy soul the balm of rest?"

Here, the poet addresses Asra as a romantic figure, a messenger of beauty and peace. He suggests that she has come from a distant land, a land of enchantment and wonder, to bring joy and comfort to the world. The second stanza continues this theme, with its description of Asra's beauty and grace:

"Thy form is grace, thine eye is fire, Thy motion like the breeze of morn; Thy smiles, the loveliest, softest wire That e'er the soul of passion born."

Here, the poet uses vivid imagery to convey the physical and emotional qualities of Asra. He compares her to the elements of nature, to the wind, the sun, and the flowers. He also uses the metaphor of the wire to suggest the delicate and powerful nature of her charm.

The third stanza introduces the theme of separation and longing:

"But, ah! what language can I frame, What measure to thy charms impart, When all my soul is but a flame, And thou, the idol of my heart!"

Here, the poet acknowledges the impossibility of expressing his love for Asra in words. He feels that his soul is consumed by the fire of passion, and that Asra is the only object of his desire. The fourth stanza continues this theme, with its image of the poet as a bird:

"Like some poor bird that, far from home, In distant climes must droop and die, Without a mate, without a dome, Without a kindred sympathy."

Here, the poet compares himself to a bird that has lost its mate and its home. He feels alone and isolated, without any connection to the world. The fifth stanza introduces the theme of poetry as a means of transcendence:

"But, hark! the sweetest notes that float Along the azure depths of air, Are but the echoes of thy throat, The music of thy beauty rare."

Here, the poet suggests that the beauty of Asra is the source of all music and poetry. He sees her as the muse, the inspiration, the divine spark that ignites the creative imagination. The sixth and final stanza concludes the poem with a powerful image of union and transcendence:

"Then let me die, that I may be With thee, my love, forevermore, And in thy bosom find the key To all the mysteries of yore."

Here, the poet expresses his desire to merge with Asra, to become one with her, and to unlock the secrets of the universe. He sees death as a gateway to eternal life, and to the ultimate union with the beloved.


The language of Poetry To Asra is rich, sensual, and musical. Coleridge uses a variety of poetic devices to create a vivid and emotional atmosphere. He employs metaphors, similes, alliteration, and repetition to enhance the beauty and power of his words. He also uses archaic and poetic language to create a sense of timelessness and universality. For example, he uses the word "blandishment" in the first stanza, which means flattery or sweet talk, to suggest the seductive power of Asra. He also uses the word "yore" in the final stanza, which means the distant past, to suggest the eternal nature of love and the mysteries of existence.


Poetry To Asra is a masterpiece of Romanticism, a poem that captures the essence of the Romantic spirit. It is a celebration of love, imagination, and transcendence, and a meditation on the power of poetry to transform our lives. Coleridge's use of vivid imagery, emotional intensity, and philosophical depth creates a powerful and unforgettable work of art. It is a poem that speaks to the heart and the soul, and that continues to inspire and enchant readers today.

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