To Disappointment: by S. T. Coleridge - Summary Analysis

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      To Disappointment is included in the Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1895. This short poem has been composed in 1792 when Coleridge is just twenty years of age. His acquaintance with the family of a widow, Mrs. Evans, began as early as 1788 when he is still a student in the charity school of Christ's Hospital in London. One of the sons of Mrs. Evans is his schoolmate. The poet has fallen in love with Mrs. Evans' daughter Mary, about whom he use to compose romantic poems, apostrophizing her by the name Lewti. Although his sentiments are not taken seriously by Mary, the poet's respect and affection for the kindly and considerate Mrs. Evans continues unabated. In this poem, he eulogizes her as "parent" and "friend". At the time when the acquaintance begin, that family is staying in London but at the time of the composition of the poem the mother and the daughter are staying in Wales. The fact that Mary did not encourage his romantic attentions, did not prevent Coleridge from respecting the mother and praying for her peace and happiness at her rural resort far away from the "crowded mart" of the metropolitan city.


      The poet orders Disappointment to go away. He calls it the "find of gloomy sway which destroys all one's hopes and illusions. He condemns Disappointment to the company of Avarice, Ambition, Pleasure, Guilt and Folly. Disappointment is not to come near Hope because it will always try to poison and kill hope.

      Addressing the sweet month of May, the poet then goes on to ask it to provide every kind of happiness to Mrs. Evans, whom he considers his 'parent' and 'friend'. He requests the sweet month of May to go quickly and shower her with peace, good health, laughing hours and social pleasures.

      Finally, the poet expresses his desire that Mrs. Evans shall continue to enjoy the peace and leisure of retirement in the Wales countryside. She shall not disturb herself and come back to the crowded city. The poet do not want his selfish heart to be disappointed at her delayed return to the city. Heather wishes her peaceful stay in Wales.


      Development of Thought. In the poem. To Disappointment, Coleridge actually dismisses Disappointment to the company of mean qualities such as Avarice, Ambition, Guilt and Folly. He tells Disappointment not to come near Hope because its effort is always to kill hope. The poet addresses the sweet month of May to shower happiness of every kind on Mrs. Evans in her peaceful sojourn in the Wales countryside. He says that Mrs. Evans should enjoy herself and not disturb herself by coming back to the crowded city. He is determined not to feel disappointed at her delayed return. Indeed, he will be selfish if he is to mourn her delayed return to the city.

      Critical Appreciation. Many of Coleridge's poems reveal intense morbidity and pitiable unhappiness that has been his lot throughout his life. Yet poems like this piece can be seen to express his moods of joy too. The poet wants disappointment to be dismissed and done away with. He celebrates the month of May which, he hopes will confer all kind of happiness on Mrs. Evans.

      Theme. Though the poem is named after Disappointment, the real theme is the expression of the poet's love and respect for Mrs. Evans whom he considers as his parent and friend. He would like her to enjoy peace, health, laughter, social pleasures and hours of rest and retirement amidst the calm loveliness of the Wales countryside. The poet's sincere feelings of love and respect are expressed.

      Synthesis of Romanticism and Neo-classicism. Another noteworthy feature in this poem is its happy synthesis of romanticism and neo-classicism. The expression of personal feelings and the induction of autobiographical elements are all features of romanticism. At the same time, the poet has also personified the different qualities of head and heart such as Hope, Wisdom, Avarice, Ambition, Folly, Guilt, besides Disappointment. This is peculiar to the Neoclassical School of poetic art.

      Simple Poem. The poem is simple and devoid of complex philosophical thoughts or religious mustangs. No portion of it can be called obscure. The poet's desire to associate with nature is also manifest. He craves for favours of Nature to enjoy them. There is no hint here of Nature as a moral teacher. He refers to Spring's flowerets, cooling streams of summer and corn-clothed glade of the Autumn without any craving for edification. He expresses sincere and simple love for an elderly lady who has shown a mother's affection for him. The melody of the lines heightens the aesthetic pleasure we derive from this poem.


      L. 1-3. Hence.....air built pride. Coleridge bids Disappointments go away. Disappointment is regarded as a fiend having the power to spread gloom. Disappointment loves to shatter the pride that one feels on the basis of some illusory hope. Disappointment destroys one's hopes and the pride arising from these hopes. 

      In picturesque language, Coleridge conveys the idea of the pleasantness of nursing an illusion.

      L. 25-32. And mourn. In his To Disappointment Coleridge hopes that Mrs. Evans will enjoy all happiness possible in her retirement in the Wales countryside. Coleridge says that she may continue her sojourn in Wales till all the beauties of the various season come to an end. Only then is she to come to the crowded city. The poet may miss her company but he is determined not to feel disappointed at her absence when she is amidst the joy, beauty and tranquillity of the countryside. Coleridge's sincere feelings of affection to Mrs. Evans are expresses in the characteristic Romantic manner.

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