Jan 25 • 6M

Frost at Midnight

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)

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The scene is a small cottage, in a crisp winter night, and the poet Coleridge is awake beside the low fire, and his sleeping infant son. He looks to that fire, and he sees a sort of film flickering on the iron grate, a film of soot glowing with heat. In England, that film was called the “stranger.” If you saw one, it meant that somebody was going to visit you soon. Coleridge remembers seeing it once when he was at school, in the city, and hoping that somebody was going to come from his home village in the country — his aunt, his sister, his playmate there when he was a small boy and both girl and boy were dressed alike.

“An Open Hearth with a Fire,” Joseph Wright. Public Domain.

Then the poet looks again to the baby in the crib, and it’s with a quiet hope, because that child will not be trammeled up in the city. He will be closer to the things God made, and he will hear God’s voice in them.

It is an exquisitely lovely and tender poem, and though Coleridge sometimes comes near to say…

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