Critical Analysis of “Dejection: an Ode” by S. T. Coleridge

Critical Analysis of “Dejection: an Ode” by S. T. Coleridge

“Dejection: an Ode” is a conversation poem of S. T. Coleridge. Conversation poems are those, in which the poet expects a listener (usually imaginative) in front of him. He imagines that a listener is listening to him. Although no conversation takes place between the writer and the listener yet the poet establishes a relationship between the two. The poems are purely soliloquies or monologues but still called conversation poems. “Dejection” is not the only conversation poem of S. T. Coleridge. He has written many poems with same style and attitude.

As far as “Dejection: an Ode” is concerned it is entirely related to personal problems of the poet. The poet starts the poem with description of night scene; weather is very much clear a cool wind is blowing; the poet is enjoying the beauty of nature. He is seeing full moon on the sky, which increases the joy of poet. Suddenly, the poet realizes that weather is going to be terrible. He is expecting a storm, which will destroy the beauty of night. A melancholic tune is being played on Aeolian lute. It seems that the poet is not in imagination. He has created realistic imagery, full of music and harmony. But suddenly his feelings change after knowing the condition of weather. A sense of grieve overpowers him. He wants the lute to be silent. In short, the poet has been greatly disturbed by the terrific stormy weather. He also gives its description in various lines. Raining in thick showers enlarges the sadness of poet. He expects new inspiration from this weather but the feelings of depression overwhelm him. He wants to utter his problems but feels that his tongue is seized. He does not find any word to express them. These are strange feelings. He wants to share his problems but does not find suitable words. He himself is not sure about his problem. He feels that he is in grave danger but does not know the reason behind it. He knows that he is in pain but is unable to express it. He tries to gather suitable words for expression of his grief so that he will be able to share his problems. It is much difficult task to translate feelings in form of words. Thus, mum tragedy of the poet is witnessed.

Finally, the poet speaks about his problem. His problem is related to creative imagination. He feels that he is losing his imaginative powers. His feelings for beauty of nature have died and he is no more able to find beauty in natural objects; he knows that is necessary for a romantic poet to feel the beauty of nature. Everything (nature and its objection), is same but his emotions have died. Of course, the poet is talking about his poetic faculty. S. T. Coleridge and John Keats both have written “dejections” because they feel that they have lost their poetic gaiety. Every poet is dependent on his power of imagination; therefore, loss of creative feelings is irreparable. Description of clear weather, in start of the poem, reveals that the poet is happy on his creative powers. Full moon, beautiful sky and cool wind symbolize for bright imagination of poet but the stormy weather is a symbol of threat to poet’s senses. He says that clouds, moon, wind, trees, plants and flowers are same but his senses do not respond to them. Starting lines of the poem are about early days of poet’s life; he remembers those days when he had good power of thinking, whereas the stormy weather is the symbol of poet’s insensitiveness.

Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. Nature itself is pleasurable but for a patient, there is no beauty in flowers and birds. When description of natural objects is read in poems a strong imagination is required to feel them. Not everyone can enjoy nature. Feelings of nature can only be aroused if the viewer has power to reacts. The poet also shares the same idea. He has says that there is no harm to natural objects but to his feelings, which are going to die; due to his dead feelings, he will not be able to feel beauty in natural objects. He laments on his loss. It is ironic that the poet is crying on the loss of his poetic imagination; he says that he cannot feel beauty in nature yet he has described each and every natural object minutely with the power of his imagination. He says that he has lost his poetic genius but ironically, this poem strengthens his poetic genius. Perhaps, his powers have not been ended yet; maybe he is expecting a threat to his poetic faculty in future. Thus, he fears about the upcoming disasters.

The poet talks about the importance of natural joy. Feelings and emotions are important things of life and imagination is a method to change these feelings. A depressed person may find peace in his imagination. Similarly, a happy person may become sad on remembering old days of his life. Imagination is the precious thing for every person especially for the poets. Poetry has been defended even by Aristotle; he gave strong grounds in defense of poetry, in which “imitation” is the most important. A poet, he says, imitate things. The process of imitation is only possible if a person has strong imaginative power. When a poet loses his sense of imagination, the world becomes barren for him. S. T. Coleridge does not want to see the barren world, therefore, he bewails on the loss of his poetic faculty. He remembers his old days when his power was good enough to feel joy in every natural object. Indeed, those days were the most beautiful days of his life. He was hopeful. He has depressions but he could handle them with his imagination.  Line, “the glory and freshness of a dream, suggests that the poet was happy living the life of dreams.

Sad tune on Aeolian lute refers the gloomy condition of poet. He is rebuking the storm because he is playing a melancholic tune in the month of April. He says that it should play a romantic and cheerful tune in these days. Symbolically, the poet’s mood is sad. He is hearing the tune in his imagination. His heart is depressed; therefore, the tune is sad. Condition of the poet is very painful. He cites the tragic tale of Lucy Gray, who went to find his mother in a storm with lantern in her hand but loose her way; eventually she falls from a bridge and dies. This story is related to the miserable condition of poet. After excess resistance, his poetic faculty surrenders and the poet finally gave up on his imagination.

In last lines of the poem, the poet prays that; may his beloved never share his dejection; may she never lose his imagination; may she never wake up at night and lament; may her condition never become so miserable; may she find peace in natural objects; may she find beauty in nature. With a lot of prayers, the poet ends the poem after wishing her eternal happiness.

The poem is just an amazing piece of literature. It strengthens the God gifted creativity of S. T. Coleridge. Simultaneously, it is ironic. The poet mourns on his loss; he feels that he has lost his poetic genius even then the poem is a masterpiece. He cries on the most valuable thing of life. He possesses a precious thing, which has given him fame; it has given him pleasure; it has helped him changing his mood; therefore, he feels dejected on the most valuable thing of his life.

One thought on “Critical Analysis of “Dejection: an Ode” by S. T. Coleridge

  • Critical Analysis of “Dejection: an Ode” by S. T. Coleridge
    Sonia Lamba

    I am an IGNOU Englis Literature student. This Answer was really helpful for me. Thank you so much 🙂


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