Letters of Hartley Coleridge

By Grace Griggs Evelyn; Earl Griggs Leslie et al. | Go to book overview

Hartley's mother died suddenly on September 24, 1845. While he had not seen her since 1831, he had been in constant correspondence with her, and she had watched over him as though he had remained a child. A sonnet written on this occasion is pathetically sincere.

'Oh! my dear mother, art thou still awake?
Or art thou sleeping on thy Maker's arm,--
Waiting in slumber for the shrill alarm
Ordain'd to give the world its final shake?
Art thou with "interlunar night" opaque
Clad like a worm while waiting for its wings;
Or doth the shadow of departed things
Dwell on thy soul as on a breezeless lake!
Oh! would that I could see thee in thy heaven
For one brief hour, and know I was forgiven
For all the pain and doubt and rankling shame
Which I have caused to make thee weep or sigh.
Bootless the wish! for where thou art on high,
Sin casts no shadow, sorrow hath no name.'


LETTER 89
To MRS. HENRY NELSON COLERIDGE, No. 10 Chester Place, Regent's Park, London.

Nab. Oct. 11, 1845.

My dear Sister-Orphan

Utterly unable as I am, either to console you under our common loss, or to lead you to one profitable reflection, which it has not, by God's grace, already suggested to your own heart, I fear you have thought me negligent of your sorrow, to have suffered nearly three weeks [to] elapse, without a line to signify that I knew myself Motherless. Day after day have I purposed, but words fail'd me, not from severity of grief--Alas--my heart is not capable of a grief equal to the hundredth part of her due, and I cannot shed above a few unsatisfactory tears, rather at the recollection of past days and tendernesses, and funny things--memories new dressed in mourning, than from a competent feeling of the great bereavement, and a humble yielding to the awful blow. But unprepared as I was for the announcement, at first hardly understanding that it really was my own Mother who had departed, I was at first more stunned and stupefied than afflicted. I could not think of her as dead. So long indeed, has she been to me, more a thing of the past than of

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