Frost at Midnight: Line by Line Summary & Analysis

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      L. 1-23. There is a silent shower of frost in the cold winter night and there is no wind. In the silence of the night is heard the shrill cry of the owlet. All the members of the house are asleep. I am alone and I could meditate on serious things. Only my child is sleeping peacefully in the cradle by my side. There is silence. But it is so grim and strange that it became oppressive and disturbed my meditative mood. The whole of nature - sea, hill, forest, the populous village with the pulsations of life is silent like pictures in a dream. The thin blue flame on the fire is still. The only thing that is not still and stirred is the film that floats from the flame. I, in my idle contemplation, has my thoughts engross in the flapping and fluttering of the film. It seems to me that it stirs in the grim silence in sympathy with me and it is as it is a living companion capable of understanding me. For the idle mind searches for the echoes and resemblances of its own moods in all natural objects and plays with the current of thoughts for this purpose. 

      L. 24-43. How often, my mind being full of strange anticipations? I look across the bars of my school often awaiting somebody I know but who is a stranger there. And often did I weave dreams, though I am not asleep, about my birth-place and its old church tower. The ringing of the bells of the church was the only music that the poor parishioners could afford to enjoy. In the hot fair-day the music rang all day long. The music is so sweet that it awakens a strange excess of joy in me which remain with me and spoke to me of future happenings. I dream thus looking across the bars, until the calm influence of the sweet thoughts made me fall asleep and dream more of those in my sleep. The next morning I am full of anticipations that something should happen to me to sweeten the dreary atmosphere of the place. The letters of my book swam before me in my excitement. But I fixed my eyes on my book in a show of study in fear of my teacher who is very strict. Only when the door is partially opened, I quickly look through it. I am full of excitement for I still expected that some townsman, or my aunt or my dear sister who has been my playmate when we have like clothes to wear would come to visit me.

      L. 44-64. My darling child, you are asleep in a cradle by my side. In the deep silence of the night I can hear your soft breathing which takes up my attention in the short intervals or pauses between the flight of my thoughts. My darling is so beautiful. It fills my heart with joy and tenderness to look at you now and when I remember my hard school days and think that you will learn different things in a different atmosphere. I am a town-bred boy, shut in the midst of dimly lighted convents. The only beautiful things I see were the clear sky and the stars glittering in it. But you will run like the wind by the lakes and on sandy shores of seas under the steep rocks and the clouds which take all the different shapes of lakes, shores and rocks. Living in the midst of natural beauty you will feel God present in all things which in their turn, have their beings God. God knows all things. He is the great universal teacher. He will shape your mind by his supreme influence which you will find in natural sights and sounds. With every bit of knowledge, you will gain, by this means, you will be eager to know more.

      L. 66-75. You will have a happy time in all seasons - whether it be summer when the earth is covered with green trees or winter when the robin sings sitting between tufts of snow on the bare branch of moss-laden apple-tree when in the rays of the sun snow on the thatched roofs melts away or when the soft sounds of frost falling from, the eaves are heard only in the spells of cessation of storm or when small frozen particles of ice hanging from the comers of the eaves shine in the soft and silent moonlight.


      L. 15-16. Only that film.....sole unquiet thing. These lines are taken from Coleridge's poem Frost At Midnight. In these lines he means to say that there is no flicker in the fire except in the part of it that smolders within the grate, and its flickering is the only sign of animation that can be found. This thin flame in the grating is the only thing that breaks the silence prevailing everywhere.

      L. 17-23. Methinks, its motion.....toy of thought. These lines have been taken from Coleridge's poem Frost At Midnight. In these lines the poet tells us that he thinks the flickering of the fire in the grating, when quietness prevails over all objects of Nature, establishes its affinity with hint who is a living creature, and makes it a welcome companion. Its tiny flappings and flutterings that the spirit of man in a mood of relaxation interprets according to its own mood fancies, for the idling spirit seeks everywhere echo or mirror of itself, and indulges not in sober thoughts but in idle fancies and dreams.

      L. 37-38. A wed by the stern.....swimming book. These lines have been taken from Coleridge's poem Frost At Midnight. In these lines, the poets tells us that being afraid of punishment from the stern teacher, the poet continued fixing his eyes in mock attention on his book which appears to swim before his eyes. The attitude of mock attention is assumed by the poet to deceive his stern teacher whose punishment he dreaded.

      L. 58-62. So shalt thou himself. These lines have been taken from the poem Frost At Midnight by Coleridge. In these lines, the poet tells us that his child will learn from the various beautiful sights and sounds of Nature which serve as it were, the medium of conveying to human beings the message which God is eternally preaching to mankind. God constantly reveals Himself in everything and there is nothing on this earth which is not a manifestation of God. God exists in everything and everything exists in God; this is the Pantheistic Theory. Here the poet gives expression to the typically Wordsworthian theory of the Nature-education which is so beautifully expounded by Wordsworth in his Lucy Poems.

      L. 65-74. Therefore all seasons.....quiet Moon. These lines have been taken from the poem Frost At Midnight by Coleridge. In these lines, the poet, addressing his son, says that all the seasons of the year will be pleasant to him. He will love the summer season which will cover the whole earth with green foliage and green verdure. Nor will he fail to be inspired by the song of the robin which in the winter season will sing, sitting among clusters of snow on the bare branch of the moss covered apple trees, while the snow covering the thatched roof of the cottage nearby begins to emit vapours as it melts in the sun. He will love to hear the spattering sound produced by the falling of the drop of rain, heard only in the lulls of the storm, or he will love to watch the masses of snow hanging from the corners of the eaves congealed by the cold wind of winter when the shower or frost falls silently and quietly, and shining gently in the moonlight. These lines reveal the dream-like quality of Coleridge's poetic genius.

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