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Ode to Dejection Summary, Analysis, Explanation

Ode to Dejection Summary, Analysis, Explanation

1. A Note :

The present poem was originally written in the form of a letter, rather long, of 339 lines. It is not exactly certain to whom it was addressed. It might have been originally intended for his poet-friend Wordsworth. But after his difference from the other poet on some issues , the addressee was changed to Sara, a lady for whom he had love and regard enough. But even the matter is not certain.

 

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Coleridge, however, resolved to change the character of the letter and bring it to the form of an ode. He began to do that in summer of 1802 and the letter was transformed into Dejection: an Ode. Of course the poem was much shortened, too, its length was reduced to 139 lines, omitting most of the personal references.

and That is the background behind this very well-known poem Dejection: an Ode from Coleridge. The poem is concerned mainly with the disturbed and restless mental state of the poet. The poet reflects here on his own dejection that heavily and gloomily set on his mental rest, peace, contentment and happiness, which he was urgently in need of.

2. Paraphrase :

 1. The poet saw the last evening, the new moon, in the arms of the old moon. He was afraid of an indication of a dreadful storm in that.

2. The poet refers to the author of the grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence that rightly predicted of a dreadful storm out of a calm sky to cause that disastrous drowning. The poet finds the (present) weather calm and still but apprehends that it will be disturbed in no time, as he finds equally the old moon in the lap of the new. He is afraid that this fortells a furious storm and rain. He wishes that the present softly belowing wind may immediately be turned stormy and violent bringing high wind and rainfall. The sound of such a rainy and stormy weather has often raised his drooping spirit and depressed mind to a stir and a thrill. The poet wishes that impulse to startle his dull and benumbing pain to have mobility and liveliness. (Stanza – 1]

3. The poet’s grief causes no pain. This is somewhat stifled and unimpassioned grief. This has no natural outlet to have relief in words, sighs, or tears. He addresses his lady (Sarah) and drews her attention to the scene of the throstle singing all through fragant and quiet evening.

The poet has been gazing at the western sky with its peculiar colour of yellow and green. Still he continues to gaze but his sight is blank and vague. Clouds above move in flakes and lines to give the stars their motion. These stars are often shining and often appearing dim, though they are always seen. The crescent moon above seems fixed in its position, the blue lake-like sky without stars or clouds. The poet finds all excellently fair, but cannot feel in his own self how beautiful are they.

 

4. The poet’s natural spirit is gone. What feeling can come out of his much oppressed heart? His endeavours to enjoy (natural beauty) is of no avail how much he can look, even for ever, at that green light, yet lingering in the west. The poet does not expect passion and liveliness from the external forms, for these are the matters of his heart, (Stanza – III)

5. The poet addresses the lady once again. He asserts that men receive (from Nature) what they give. Nature alone lives in man’s life which is her wedding garment, and her shroud. Men cannot behold anything more than what the inanimate world of nature affords to them. The human sense of beauty and glory in natural objects emerges from the human heart. All the sweet sights and sounds, perceived in nature, come from (the realisation of) the human soul. (Stanza – IV

6. The poet forbids the lady (whose heart is pure) to ask him of the strong music of the soul, its nature and existence. She should not also ask him about the nature of the light, the glory and the radiance that enable man to appreciate beauty. The source of this light or glory is joy, which is granted only to those who are pure in heart in their purest moments of life. Joy, that is perceived in the cloud that pours the shower, and in this hour itself.

Joy is the power-giving principle and the very power that unites with imagination to make nature so lovely for men. The beauty of new Earth and the new Heaven comes herefrom, and the vulgar and proud person cannot even dream of the same. The sweetness of the sounds and the brightness of the sights proceed from this very joy. It is the presence of joy that makes all happy. All that charms human ears and draws human eyes, flow from this joy, that dwells in the human heart. All sweet melodies and pleasant sights in nature are simply the echo and the reflection of the joy that dwells in human heart. (Stanza

7. There was a time when the poet’s journey in life was rough and his joy was beset with distress. All his misfortunes are, however, nothing to his fancy and dream of happiness. Hope then grew around him, and made him joyous. But now affliction bows him down to earth and robs him of his mirth. Each of its attack suspends what is natural in him and halts the power of his imagination. The poet feels pain and needs only patience to bear. It is his own self that can only relieve him from that, which infects the whole of him and it (dejection) is now his natural habit.

 

8. The poet upon wishes to cast off the poisonous thoughts, the hard matters of reality, that coil around his mind. He tries to set him free from such thoughts and listen to the blowing wind, long unnoticed by him. A deep cry of torture and pain seem to prolong his life. The wind that blows hard through crags and mountain, lakes or the trees that are blasted in lightning or moves through unclimabed pine groves, are much better than what his pain is. The poet calls the wind, a mad piper, playing his pipe.

This wind is producing sounds, anywhere and everyhere, and shaking blossoms and buds, leaves and flowers. The poet seems to feel that, this is celebrating the devil’s Christmas among all kinds of tragic sounds. This is a mighty poet caught in a spell of poetic frenzy. The sounds, producing by it, seem to be similar to the ones made by a retreating army with its members, groaning with wounds and shuddering with cold.

But now, there is a pause with a deep silence everywhere. All the noises and rushing sounds seem to be over. A new tale has come, less of fear and tampered with delight. This is Thomas Otway’s tender story of a little girl, moaning low in grief and fear, and sometimes screaming loudly, expecting her mother’s presence to rescue her. The wind seems to imitate such sounds. (Stanza – VII)

9. It is midnight but the poet has no inclination to sleep yet. He wishes his friend to be free from such an experience of sleeplessness. May gentle sleep visit her with its healing touch; may all the winds coming of the mountain, all the stars shining silently and brightly above, watch and help the sleeping earth. May his lady get up from bed with a light heart, with joy in her tune and sweetness in her voice. The poet wishes all creatures from one end of this earth to another, enjoy life and sleep. He ends with a prayer for his dear lady whom he considers his dearest choice to feel happy ever and for ever, (Stanza – VIII)

3. An Analytical Summary :

 I. On seeing the old moon, in the arms of the new, the poet grows fearful of a stormy weather. He admits his liking for the sounds of the high winds and storms, and rain that give an impetus and a stir to his mind, lost in frustration and sadness. [Stanza – 1]

II. The poet gives expression to the nature of his grief, that is something dark and dismal, and finds no expression in words, sighs, or tears. He feels that nature cannot cure him of his dejection as this is no longer able to stir up his nature. [Stanza – IN

III. The poet feels that the source of inspiration lies within the mind of man. It is absent in to the paralysed mind of the poet. [Stanza – II

IV. The poet addresses his lady and points out to her that men themselves, invest nature with life, beauty and gloom. They alone can attribute feelings and emotions to the inanimate objects of nature. It is man that makes and shapes nature in joys and sorrows. [Stanza – IV

V. The poet thinks that, it is none but man who alone can create beauty, sights and lovely songs, in the world of nature. From his feeling of joy, flows all finer elements in Nature that captivate the eye or the ear. (The poet speaks here of the man’s creative power to make nature lively and pleasing). [Stanza – y

VI. The poet retraced his past and thought of the time when he was full of mirth

– and joy, despite all the odds of life. He, however, does not lament, but admits what he has missed in him. (Stanza – V

VII. The poet tries to get rid of the poisonous impact of his dejection that misfortune and circumstances have poured on him. He seeks the objects of nature, like the wind, that affects all severely, to serve him in the same way and bring him to his joy of heart, removing his dejection. (Stanza – VIT]

VIII. The poet remains sleepless, although this is midnight. The poet wishes and prays for the blissful rest and sleep for all, particularly his beloved friend, whom he I considers the best well-wisher in his life. He wishes her to gain energy and liveliness, after a sound sleep, and has the same spirit for all, so that the world may be full of life and joy, without despair and agony. (Stanza – VIIN –

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