Tuesday Poem – A Soliloquy Of The Full Moon, She Being In A Mad Passion – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Now as Heaven is my Lot, they’re the Pests of the Nation!
Wherever they can come
With clankum and blankum
‘Tis all Botheration, & Hell & Damnation,
With fun, jeering
And still to the tune of Transmogrification,
Those muttering
With no Hats
Or Hats that are rusty.
They’re my Torment and Curse
And harass me worse
And bait me and bay me, far sorer I vow
Than the Screech of the Owl
Or the witch-wolf’s long howl,
Or sheep-killing Butcher-dog’s inward Bow wow
For me they all spite, an unfortunate Wight.
And the very first moment that I came to Light
A Rascal call’d Voss the more to his scandal,
Turn’d me into a sickle with never a handle.
A Night or two after a worse Rogue there came,
The head of the Gang, one Wordsworth by name,
`Ho! What’s in the wind?’ ‘Tis the voice of a Wizzard!
I saw him look at me most terribly blue!
He was hunting for witch-rhymes from great A to Izzard,
And soon as he’d found them made no more ado
But chang’d me at once to a little Canoe.
From this strange Enchantment uncharm’d by degrees
I began to take courage & hop’d for some Ease,
When one Coleridge, a Raff of the self-same Banditti
Past by, & intending no doubt to be witty,
Because I’d th’ ill-fortune his taste to displease,
He turn’d up his nose,
And in pitiful Prose
Made me into the half of a small Cheshire Cheese.
Well, a night or two past – it was wind, rain & hail,
And I ventur’d abroad in a thick Cloak & veil,
But the very first Evening he saw me again
The last mentioned Ruffian popp’d out of his Den –
I was resting a moment on the bare edge of Naddle
I fancy the sight of me turn’d his Brains addle –
For what was I now?
A complete Barley-mow
And when I climb’d higher he made a long leg,
And chang’d me at once to an Ostrich’s Egg –
But now Heaven be praised in contempt of the Loon,
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.
Yet my heart is still fluttering –
For I heard the Rogue muttering –
He was hulking and skulking at the skirt of a Wood
When lightly & brightly on tip-toe I stood
On the long level Line of a motionless Cloud
And ho! what a Skittle-ground! quoth he aloud
And wish’d from his heart nine Nine-pins to see
In brightness & size just proportion’d to me.
So I fear’d from my soul,
That he’d make me a Bowl,
But in spite of his spite
This was more than his might
And still Heaven be prais’d! in contempt of the Loon
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834

To read about Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote such well-loved  poems as The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Kahn, go here



Prior to flying out of Nelson recently, I viewed a solar eclipse with great clarity. On my return I had an exceptionally clear view of Farewell Spit and the Boulder Bank. Two days later I went to an open night at the Nelson Observatory and viewed the moon and all its craters. (Thank you Nelson for a week of exceptionally fine weather!) A bonus on my observatory visit, was the sight of the international space station sweeping across the sky. It was such an inspiration to receive these reminders of  the earth’s curve; the curve of Farewell Spit, the curve of the Boulder Bank,  the curve of the sun (not usually visible,  unless viewed through protective lenses) and the curve of the moon.

The moon is multiply described in global literature, view this fascinating article on the topic.  Although the poem above has been described as one of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s worst poems, I appreciated it for the rambunctiousness of its language and hope you do too.

The earliest moon poem  I can find, is this one from The Chinese Book of Odes dated between 5 and 1200 BC.  Here is the beautiful last verse.

‘I climbed the hill just as the new moon showed,

I saw him coming on the southern road.

My heart lays down its load.’

If you want to catch up with the  international space station and find out when you might view it yourself go here.

This is the last of Tuesday Poem until January 22nd 2013, it being the New Zealand summer holiday period, so make the most of it.  Helen Lowe is the editor this week and has posted a poem by Sarah Broome, a poem I enjoyed very much for its perception and clarity of style.  Read it here.

6 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem – A Soliloquy Of The Full Moon, She Being In A Mad Passion – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  1. I started reading it – not really getting the point – until I read Kathleen’s comment. Ouch. So funny. Cheers for sharing – have really enjoyed your poems this year – so happy Christmas and a fantastic New Year to you and your family – and here’s to looking forward to seeing more of your blog in the New Year 🙂

  2. Thanks Alicia. Yes it’s a good laugh at poets in general and their various notions of the moon. I love it that he takes the moon’s point of view as well. And finishes with ‘I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.’ I find it very modern in the sense of him respecting an individual’s right to be who they are without unnecessary expectations, be that in in this case it’s the moon! I’ve enjoyed your blog too. Have the best Christmas!

  3. Hi Helen,
    Poem a clef…..hmm. Somewhere I read that is was a ‘conversation’ poem. I can’t really comment on clefs except when they are treble…though I have had a look online. Can you send me a clear definition please and make it sharp! Oops 🙂

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