“The real blossoming of Coleridge’s (1772-1834) poetical genius was brief indeed, but the fruit of it was rich and wonderful.” (Albert, 2002)
The poems of Coleridge is characterized by intense creative power, over which he exercises a complete and consummate control. The poem ‘Frost at Midnight’ is pervaded by the poet’s unmistakable artistic sense.
Theme Having been blessed with a son in 1796, Coleridge composed the poem soon after and while doing so, the memory of his own childhood days comes back to him. The poet is keen that quite unlike him, his son should grow up as a child amidst nature and be able to imbibe all that nature has to teach him. His son should not be a prisoner in a city dwelling from where he can not see anything except the dimmed stars and a dirty sky.
The poet’s little son is quietly sleeping nearby the fire. Everybody else is also asleep on the silent night. The poet alone is awake sitting close to the fire. The silence is so complete that the poet can not think clearly save the momentary call of an owl after which the heavy, disturbing silence descends once again. The iron bars and flaps in the fireplace shakes indeterminately while the small blue flames of the fire flickers softly licking the grate. It seems to Coleridge that the moving flames and he are the only things alive in the silent world.
The poet becomes reminiscent of his school days when he used to gaze at the bars dreamily thinking about his birthplace. The church bell would be softly ringing in his ears from the past. This was the only music he knew when he was in the village. He would be preoccupied with the sound of the bells and his birthplace throughout the morning the next day at school but worried also at the same time lest the strict headmaster should pass by. The words on the pages of the open book would begin to swim before his eyes in spite of his trying hard to concentrate on the lesson. When sometimes the door of the class room opened a little, his face would wear a look of disappointment because the person who would enter would be neither his aunt nor his sister with whom he used to play.
The breathing of the poet’s little son, now quite audible in the absolute quiet in the dead of night, cradled next to him, seem to fill the empty spaces in his thoughts. The poet is delighted that his child will be frolicking around hilly areas under the open sky. The innocent wisdom of the child would make him communicate with the sights and sounds of nature in his own way and God will make his presence felt in the child’s soul. The poet hopes that such a childhood will mould his son’s spirit in such a manner that he will realize one day that nature is but a subtle manifestation of God Himself.
It is the poet’s fervent hope that his son will groom himself to learn all the seasons, be it the lush greens of the summer or the utter cold of the winter when dew drops get frozen on the roof.