There is a fountain, to whose flowery side
By diverse ways the children of the earth
Turn day and night athirst, to measure forth
Its sweet pure waters—health, and wealth, and pride,
Power clad in arms, and wisdom Argus-eyed.
But one apart from all is seen to stand,
And take up in the hollow of his hand
What to their golden vessels is denied;
Baffling their utmost reach. He, born and nursed
In the glad sound and freshness of that place,
Drinks momently its dews, and feels no thirst:
While from his bowered grot, or sunny space,
He sorrows for that troop, as it returns
Through the wide wilderness with empty urns!
Hartley Coleridge had a strained relationship with his father, Samuel Tay-
lor Coleridge, who named him after the associationist philosopher David
Hartley (1705–57). As a child, he was precocious and imaginative, but
William Wordsworth's poem “To H. C., Six Years Old” expresses an anxiety
for him that proved all-too prophetic. As an adult poet, his favorite form
was the sonnet, and his sonnets were greatly admired during his lifetime.
Serious literary success, nonetheless, eluded him, primarily because of alco-
holism and an insecurity derived in part from being his father's son.
Long time a child, and still a child, when years
Had painted manhood on my cheek, was I;
For yet I lived like one not born to die;
A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears,
No hope I needed, and I knew no fears.
But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep, and waking,
I waked to sleep no more, at once o'ertaking
The vanguard of my age, with all arrears
Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man,
Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray,
For I have lost the race I never ran,
A rathe December blights my lagging May;
And still I am a child, though I be old,
Time is my debtor for my years untold.