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Frost at Midnight
by Samuel Coleridge is a collection of deep, personal contemplations by who we assume is Coleridge himself. It is a late, cold winter night, though Coleridge sits awake, deep in thought. The rest of his family is fast asleep elsewhere in the house, except for his young son who is sleeping peacefully at his side. Perhaps he was woken by the owl’s loud cry, and ran to his father for protection from the nighttime noises. The house is alone in the woods, and the silence bothers Coleridge. He grew up in the city, and is more familiar with the constant noise associated with a more urban location. His “populous village” of a house is only as noisy as the dreams of the sleeping family inside it. He gazes into the low burning fire, his attention caught by the fluttering soot up against the fireplace grating. It is the only other thing besides him in the house that seems to be awake. Coleridge slips into thought, and begins a flashback to his school days. As he stares at the fireplace, his vision loses focus, and the fluttering soot now links him to his past, toying with his thoughts.
The fireplace is now in his old school building. Young Coleridge is supposed to be studying, but instead is gazing into the fireplace, not at all paying attention to his work. He is homesick, and is daydreaming of his birthplace. He reminisces on fair-days and the wonderful festivities, and is sore that he is stuck here in the city, far from home. His daydream is intermittently broken by the sound of the door opening. He hopes to see a family member or even recognizable townsfolk, here to take him away from school and back to the comfort of his home, but such rescue never comes.
Coleridge returns to the present, interrupted by the soft breathing of his son. He realizes the opportunities his son will have, and promises never to send him off to the city as he was. Coleridge knows his son will be able to wander through nature at his own pleasure, seeing all of God’s creation, and, no matter what the season or weather it brings, it will bring his son inspiration and happiness.
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