A Vision by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
|Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1795 by Peter Vandyke.|
A Vision is an essay by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and was first published in A Lay Sermon in 1817. It begins,
A feeling of sadness, a peculiar melancholy, is wont to take possession of me alike in spring and in autumn. But in spring it is the melancholy of hope; in autumn it is the melancholy of resignation. As I was journeying on foot through the Apennines, I fell in with a pilgrim in whom the spring and the autumn and the melancholy of both seemed to have combined.
He continues to describe this pilgrim and their journey together after which it suddenly seems a mixture of Edmund Spenser and John Bunyan. He writes,
We had not long been fellow-travellers, ere a sudden tempest of wind and rain forced us to seek protection in the vaulted doorway of a lone chapelry: and we sat face to face, each on the stone bench alongside the low, weather-stained wall, and as close as possible to the massy door.
The pilgrim then describes a vision going into the "Valley of Life" and then into the "Temple of Superstition" where he meets a woman,
... tall beyond the stature of mortals, and with something more than human in her countenance and mien, which yet could by mortals be only felt, not conveyed by words or intelligibly distinguished. Deep reflection, animated by ardent feelings, was displayed in them; and hope, without its uncertainty, and a something more than all these, which I understood not:but which yet seemed to blend all these into a divine unity of expression. Her garments were white and matronly, and of the simplest of nature. We inquired her name. My name, she replied, is Religion.
The pilgrim then tells of the others he met - Sensuality, Blasphemy, and Nature. Suddenly as he talks to Nature he encounters another monster, "Janus-headed", and realises that it is Superstition itself. In a terror, he wakes up.
It's an absolutely bizarre essay that, as I say, is reminiscent of Spenser and to a lesser extent Bunyan, but as I read a little more of Coleridge I see it seems to be rather typical of him. It's very intriguing and mysterious, and I loved it. I'm struggling to find it online other than on here, in pdf format. It's definitely worth a read.
And that was my 30th title for the Deal Me In Challenge. Next week - The Birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde.