A sworded man whose trade is blood,
In grief, in anger, and in fear,
Thro’ jungle, swamp, and torrent flood,
I seek the wealth you hold so dear!
The dazzling charm of outward form,
The power of gold, the pride of birth,
Have taken Woman’s heart by storm–
Usurp’d the place of inward worth.
Is not true Love of higher price
Than outward Form, though fair to see,
Wealth’s glittering fairy-dome of ice,
Or echo of proud ancestry?–
O! Asra, Asra! couldst thou see
Into the bottom of my heart,
There’s such a mine of Love for thee,
As almost might supply desert!
(This separation is, alas!
Too great a punishment to bear;
O! take my life, or let me pass
That life, that happy life, with her!)
The perils, erst with steadfast eye
Encounter’d, now I shrink to see–
Oh! I have heart enough to die–
Not half enough to part from Thee!
I am only putting this poem on my blog because of its final two lines, which I absolutely loved from the first time I read them as a child. Those lines are so entrancing with the breathless alliteration of ‘h’s, the delicate ‘f’s and of course the grandiose ‘Thee’ at the end. This is an expression of that beautiful, heroic love that consumes all and becomes all… and I just love it!
I’m not very keen on the rest of the poem, to be quite honest; I particularly dislike the line about almost supplying “desert”… it seems clumsy, as if Coleridge only put that word in to make it rhyme with “heart” (which it doesn’t, really.) But however cringing some of this poem is to me, I forgive it all when I get to the final two lines, and I hover over them to enjoy the linguistic beauty that is more akin to that of Coleridge’s most famous poem, Kubla Khan.
Separation is one of Coleridge’s ‘Asra poems’, which are all addressed to the love of his life, Sara (he affectionately called her Asra in all of his poems).
Reviewed by Emily Ardagh