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    Consider the uses – symbolic or otherwise Essay

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    This line shows the darkness but with glimmers of light shining through, the overpowering but incomplete dark over light in the night in which Christabel finds Geraldine possibly showing the overpowering but incomplete evil over good in Geraldine. Lots of imagery is used with reference to the tree beneath which Christabel prays and where she discovers Geraldine, the description is usually referring to age and size ‘old’ and ‘huge’ save for two lines; ‘And nought was green upon the oak But moss and rarest mistletoe;’ This tells the reader that there are no leaves on the old oak tree, no greenery apart from moss and mistletoe.

    Coleridge makes sure that reader has a clear picture of the scene; ‘The night is chill the cloud is grey: Tis a month before the month of May, And the spring comes slowly up this way. ‘ It is a cold but not dark, April night when Christabel enters the wood to pray for her absent lover. The reader is not led to believe anything suspicious of Geraldine until lines 140-145 when we are told of the old mastiff bitch belonging to Sir Leoline; ‘The mastiff old did not awake, Yet she and angry moan did make. And what can ail the mastiff bitch? Never till now uttered a yell. ‘

    Obviously something at that time has stirred the dog and the only possible cause is the entrance of Geraldine, the dog seems subconsciously distressed by this supposedly supernatural presence. The animal is more in tune with natural emotions; the humans are restrained by manners and culture, so Coleridge uses an animal response to show reader what the humans cannot see. Christabel on entrance into her chamber offers Geraldine a wildflower cordial made by her mother, she states that the wine has virtuous powers this introduces the idea of witchcraft, but indirectly to Geraldine who goes on to seemingly use it on Christabel later on.

    Although the praying against a tree begins to seem a bit suspect and slightly pagan which brings us to doubt the innocence of even Christabel herself. The Conclusion comes back to the imagery of nature again painting a pretty picture of the scene of Christabel praying at the tree; ‘Amid the jagged shadows Of mossy leafless boughs Kneeling in the moonlight To make her gentle vows. ‘ This carries on the now, sinister feel of the poem, with words like ‘leafless’ and ‘jagged’ and ‘shadows’. This continues on into line 295 with night-birds, the common nocturnal bird, the owl associated with death and witchcraft.

    On into Part 2 Coleridge mentions many Lake District areas so we know the poem is set in the Lake District; ‘Bratha Head’ and ‘Windermere’, ‘Langdale Pike’, ‘Dungeon Ghyll’ and ‘Borrowdale’. Later on when Geraldine mentions who her father supposedly is, it wakes up memories in Sir Leoline of his childhood when he had been friends with her father; Lord Roland de Vaux, the scars from this wounded friendship are described as broken cliffs; ‘They stood aloof, the scars remaining Like cliffs which had been rent asunder. ‘

    This description uses the nature to show how strong the bond between these two men was, it goes on to demonstrate the distance between them but nothing could destroy the friendship they once had again using a metaphor of nature, ‘A dreary sea now flows between, But neither hear, nor frost, nor thunder Shall wholly do away, I ween, The marks of that which once hath been. ‘ Nearing the end of the poem there seems to be a lot of serpentine imagery, now the reader is sure of Geraldine’s supernaturalism and malice, the snake is a symbol of evil.

    Twice in part 2 is there reference to hissing, both times coming for Christabel, she does not trust or like Geraldine at this point, but the idea of Christabel as the serpent is quite out of character as it is traditionally the already evil character in a story playing the part of the serpent. Although serpentine features are found on both young ladies Christabel in her hissing and the emphasis on Geraldine’s eyes turning snakelike in lines 573 and 590. A snake also features in the dream that Geraldine tells Sir Leoline she had, this dream seems to illustrate the control Geraldine feels she has over Christabel;

    ‘That gentle bird whom thou dost love And call’st by thy own daughters name -… When lo! I saw a bright green snake Coiled around its wings and neck. ‘ Geraldine is the snake coiling itself around the dove, Christabel. The poem Christabel is unfortunately incomplete; we shall never know how it was to end. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner begins with emphasis on describing the ancient mariner, ‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye’ The poem holds onto the description emphasising the eyes; ‘The bright-eyed mariner’ The mariner begins the story of his journey, the birdlike imagery begins when the storm is described like a bird;

    ‘He struck with his o’ertaking wings And chased us south along. ‘ The Mariner describes the ice as ‘mast high’ and ‘green as emerald’ this shows it as beautiful in look but also sinister in height. The albatross is traditionally a good omen at sea throughout history . The sailors seem to think the albatross split the ice and freed them. ‘And round and round it flew: The ice did split with thunder-fit. ‘ The mariner describes the night while the albatross is there ‘In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud. It perched for vespers nine, Whiles all the night, through fogsmoke white Glimmered the white moonshine.

    ‘ After shooting the albatross, the mariner begins to feel its vengeance; ‘Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. ‘ They ship is surrounded by water but there is none to drink, slimy creatures crawl upon the water. ‘Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs Upon the slimy sea. ‘ The mariner compares the water to witch’s oils; ‘The water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt green and blue and white. ‘ The Mariner sees a ship but it is not till up close by the sun that he realises it is a skeleton ship. ‘And those her ribs through which the sun

    Did peer as through a grate. ‘ As the ship passes all the crew, all but the ancient mariner drop down dead. ‘And every soul, it passed me by Like the whiz of my crossbow. ‘ This quote is his memory of killing the albatross, why he is cursed with immortality. Colour and light is very prominent in this part of the poem, ‘The charmed water burnt always A still and awful red. ‘ Where the mariner is nearing the end of his curse. He watches the water snakes and unknowingly blesses them. ‘I watched the water snakes… Blue, glossy green and velvet black… And I blessed them unaware! ‘

    There is imagery of rain and wind in the fifth part as the mariner tries to journey home. ‘And the coming wind did roar more loud… And the rain poured down form one black cloud. ‘ The mood of the poem lightens with the birdsong; ‘ Sometimes a-dropping from the sky I heard the skylarks sing’ Which then changes to angel’s song And now it is and angel’s song That makes the heavens be mute. ‘ When the mariner finally reaches home, the imagery describing his homeland is much more than throughout the rest of the poem. ‘The rock shone bright, the kirk no less That stands above the rock;

    The moonlight steeped in silentness The steady weathercock. ‘ Childhood is a very prominent feature in the poem ‘Frost at Midnight’. Coleridge’s son Hartley is and infant sleeping beside him as he writes He begins by setting the scene He uses the imagery of frost being secretly administered. ‘The frost performs its secret ministry. ‘ The ‘owlets cry’ both show that it is night time and reflect the focus of childhood with a young owl. Coleridge talks of the silence and says it is so extreme as to disturb meditation. ‘Tis calm indeed! – so calm that it disturbs And vexes meditation with its strange

    And extreme silentness,’ As she watches his child sleep he remembers his birthplace and the thing from his childhood; ‘With unclosed lids, already had I 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,’ Coleridge addresses the child and speaks to it about how different his childhood will be and how glad he is that the babe shall be able to grow up in the beautiful countryside. ‘My babe so beautiful, it fills my heart With tender gladness thus to look at thee, And think that thou shalt learn far other lore

    And in far other scenes! ‘ The child is asleep in its natural world, undisturbed by the ‘supernatural’ musings of its parent. He is also drawing attention to his child’s rural upbringing compared to his own urban one his babe ‘shalt wander like a breeze’. This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison is full of the natural imagery of Coleridge imagining the beautiful sights he is missing out on while his friends go walking without him. He starts simply by saying that he is sitting under a lime-tree feeling sorry for himself; ‘Well, they are gone, and here must I remain, This lime-tree bower my prison!


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