The butterfly the ancient Grecians made
The soul's fair emblem, and its only name -
But of the soul, escaped the slavish trade
Of mortal life! - For in this earthly frame
Ours is the reptile's lot, much toil, much blame,
Manifold motions making little speed,
And to deform and kill the things whereon we feed.
Coleridge is my favourite poet not because of his supposedly opium-fuelled Kubla Khans and Ancient Mariners (though I do love those too) but because he writes about life, and if I'm feeling grim and lonely I find a friend in him. Nature, struggle, despondency, the Elements, transcendence, the Stars, cottages, fireside, the comfort of a dying flame and the vulnerable, doomed warmth of loved ones. I identify with his struggle, physical, psychological, spiritual, through howling winds and wintry blasts. I can easily imagine going back to the early 1800s and spending a pleasant afternoon by a fireside chatting with Coleridge about ever-present Death and the difficulties and possibilities of transcending the trials of a doomed mortal life.