Friday, January 25, 2013

Poetry Friday: Written in January, 1833 - Hartley Coleridge


The old year is gone--so uncivil was I,
That I made not a couplet to bid him good bye,
But now that the new year is fairly come in,
Not to bid him a welcome, were surely a sin--

So welcome I bid him, tho' not to myself,
Yet to all who are wealthy in hope or in pelf,
All hearty good fellows to whom life is dear,
I heartily wish you a happy new year.

To the man, who is fit to be married, a wife,
And a grave unto him that is tired of life.
To my friends, that they may not have much to forgive,
To my foes, that they just may forget that I live,

To my love--that her charms may to her be a blessing,
Tho' to me I confess, they are rather distressing--
For the man of her choice may good fortune await him,
And then--why, I'll try very hard not to hate him.

-- Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849)

I share this not only because New Year thoughts are still on my brain, nor only because it was written 180 years ago this month, but also because of the author.

I am intrigued by a person who chooses a creative profession, when they have to bear the albatross of a father who was great in that profession. They have to know that no matter how good they are, they will always be compared to their father. I don't even have to tell you who his father was, do I?

Hartley's work was considered of sufficient quality for W.H. Auden to include him in his 5-volume "Poets of the English Language" in 1950. That's where I was first introduced to his poetry. He was ranked 'among the foremost sonneteers of our time," by a contemporary. Personally, I think his work would be better known today if he had had a different surname.

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