"To Fayette" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 26 December 1794 Morning Chronicle as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. Coleridge, like other Romantic poets, viewed Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette as a hero of liberty for his part in the American and French revolutions. The poem coincides with Fayette's imprisonment in Austria, and he is treated as a martyr for liberty. The language Coleridge uses within the poem to describe Fayette and revolutions appears in many of his later works.
"To Fayette" is the fourth poem of the Sonnets of Eminent Characters series and follows "To Priestley". It was completed at the beginning of December 1794 and published in the 15 December 1794 Morning Chronicle. The poem was included in Coleridge's collections of poetry from 1796 onwards with minimal changes.A footnote was added to line 14 which read, "The above beautiful Sonnet was written antecedently to the joyful account of the Patriot's escape from the Tyrant's Dungeon." In a letter dated 1 November 1796 to Thomas Poole, Coleridge explained that "To Fayette" would be included as "Juvenilia" in the second edition of the 1796 collection with "an advertisement signifying that the Poems were retained by the desire of some friends, but that they are to be considered as being in the Author's own opinion of very inferiour merit."
Lafayette was involved in the American Revolution serving as a major-general and served in France as the commander of the National Guard between 1789 and 1791 after the Bastille fell.He later joined with the reformers during the beginning of the French Revolution, and he eventually became a member of the Estates General. After the French monarch was removed, he was imprisoned in Austria and was not released until 1797. Like many of the Romantic poets, Coleridge saw those who challenged their governments in the name of liberty as a hero, which included Lafayette.
As when far off the warbled strains are heard
That soar on Morning's wing the vales among;
Within his cage the imprison'd Matin Bird
Swells the full chorus with a generous song:
He bathes no pinion in the dewy light,
No Father's joy, no Lover's bliss he shares,
Yet still the rising radiance cheers his sight—
His fellows' Freedom soothes the Captive's cares!
Thou, Fayette! who didst wake with startling voice
Life's better Sun from that long wintry night,
Thus in thy Country's triumphs shalt rejoice
And mock with raptures high the Dungeon's might:
For lo! the Morning struggles into Day,
And Slavery's spectres shriek and vanish from the ray!
The conclusion of "To Fayette" describes the image of the "ray", which is connected to two of Coleridge's sonnets on Pantiosocracy, his idea for a better society to be created in America. The "ray" is a spiritual light that is connected to a coming regeneration of the world that is connected to his poem Religious Musings that came at the end of the year. In these poems, the idea of revolution is combined with millennialism.The emphasis on Lafayette as a political prisoner that was being martyred for his beliefs would be relied on again in "To Kosciusko", the next poem in the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. Later, Coleridge planned a lecture for the summer of 1795 that would compare Lafayette with Robert Devereux.
Lafayette, like Joseph Priestley who was placed in contrast to the image of Edmund Burke, was listed among those that would meet Burke in Heaven according to a footnote in "To Burke":"It is consoling to the lovers of human nature, to reflect that Edmund Burke, the only writer of that fact 'whose name would not sully the page of an opponent,' learnt the discipline of genius in a different corps. Peace be to his spirit, when it departs from us: this is the severest punishment I wish him—that he may be appointed under-porter to St. Peter, and be obliged to open the gate of Heaven to Brissot, Roland, Concordet, Fayette, and Priestley!"
An anonymous review of Coleridge's 1796 collection of poems in the June 1796 Critical Review selected "To Fayette" as an example of Coleridge's poetry, stating, "The Effusions are in general very beautiful. The following will please every lover of poetry, and we give them as a specimen of the rest".
On Receiving an Account that his only Sister's Death was Inevitable was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1794. It was written for Coleridge's friend Charles Lamb and seeks to comfort him after his loss.
Songs of the Pixies was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge during 1793. The poem describes Coleridge's summer vacation and his childhood home. It also incorporates Coleridge's own view of himself as a young poet.
Religious Musings was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1794 and finished by 1796. It is one of his first poems of critical merit and contains many of his early feelings about religion and politics.
"To the River Otter" is a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Though its date of creation is uncertain, it was possibly composed in 1793. The poem deals with the image of the River Otter, near Coleridge's childhood home in Devon.
The Destiny of Nations was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as part of Robert Southey's Joan of Arc epic poem. The lines were later isolated from Southey's and expanded. The new poem includes Coleridge's feelings on politics, religion, and humanity's duty to helping each other.
The Eolian Harp is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1795 and published in his 1796 poetry collection. It is one of the early conversation poems and discusses Coleridge's anticipation of a marriage with Sara Fricker along with the pleasure of conjugal love. However, The Eolian Harp is not a love poem and instead focuses on man's relationship with nature. The central images of the poem is an Aeolian harp, an item that represents both order and wildness in nature. Along with the harp is a series of oppositional ideas that are reconciled with each other. The Eolian Harp also contains a discussion on "One Life", Coleridge's idea that humanity and nature are united along with his desire to try to find the divine within nature. The poem was well received for both its discussion of nature and its aesthetic qualities.
To a Young Ass was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1794. The poem describes Coleridge's sympathies for animals and the connection to nature he felt as part of his idea of Pantisocracy. It was later used as a means to mock him.
Sonnets on Eminent Characters or Sonnets on Eminent Contemporaries is an 11-part sonnet series created by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and printed in the Morning Chronicle between 1 December 1794 and 31 January 1795. Although Coleridge promised to have at least 16 poems within the series, only one addition poem, "To Lord Stanhope", was published.
"To Erskine" or "To the Hon Mr Erskine" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in November 1794. The subject of the poem is Thomas Erskine, a lawyer and member of the Whig party that successfully served in the defense of three political radicals during the 1794 Treason Trials. Coleridge admired Erskine's defense and praised Erskine's refusal to accept money for his service. The poem was published in the 1 December 1794 Morning Chronicle as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. It was later included in various collections of Coleridge's poetry published later.
"To Burke" is a sonnet by Samuel Taylor Coleridge first published in the 9 December 1794 Morning Chronicle. Unlike most of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters, "To Burke" describes a person whom Coleridge disagreed with; he felt Edmund Burke abused the idea of freedom within various speeches and turned his back on liberty.
"To Priestley" is a sonnet by Samuel Taylor Coleridge first published in the 11 December 1794 Morning Chronicle. Like most of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters, "To Priestley" addresses an individual Coleridge particularly admired; Joseph Priestley held many political and theological beliefs that Coleridge adopted during this time.
France an Ode was written by Samuel Coleridge in April 1798. The poem describes his development from supporting the French Revolution to his feelings of betrayal when they invaded Switzerland. Like other poems by Coleridge, it connects his political views with his religious thoughts. The Gothic elements of the poem connect the poem's style to many of his early poetic works.
"To Kosciusko" is the name shared by three sonnets written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Leigh Hunt, and John Keats. Coleridge's, the original, was written in December 1794 and published in the 16 December 1794 Morning Chronicle as the fifth of his Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. Hunt and Keats were inspired to follow his poem with their own versions in November 1815 and December 1816, respectively. The sonnets were dedicated to heroism of Tadeusz Kościuszko, leader of the 1794 Polish rebellion against Prussian and Russian control.
"To Pitt" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 26 December 1794 Morning Chronicle as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. Describing William Pitt the Younger and his role as Prime Minister of Great Britain, the poem is one of the few in the series that is not about a hero of Coleridge. Instead, Pitt is described as Judas, the betrayer of Christ, because of, among other issues, his treatment of political dissidents.
"To Bowles" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 26 December 1794 Morning Chronicle as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. William Lisle Bowles's poetry was introduced to Coleridge in 1789 and Bowles had an immediate impact on Coleridge's views of poetry. The sonnet celebrates Bowles's status as a poet. The poem also discusses Bowles's political beliefs, as these views also help shaped Coleridge's ideas on government and politics.
"To Mrs Siddons" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 29 December 1794 Morning Chronicle as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. It describes Sarah Siddons, an actress that Coleridge became fond of during his visits to London during college. The poem celebrates watching Siddons perform her various roles on stage. It is uncertain as to the actual authorship of the poem, since it was attributed to Charles Lamb in various works. It is possible that Lamb and Coleridge worked on the poem together, and it would represent one of Lamb's earliest works.
"To Godwin" or "To William Godwin" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 10 January 1795 Morning Chronicle as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. William Godwin was admired by Coleridge for his political beliefs. However, Coleridge did not support Godwin's atheistic views, which caused tension between the two. Although the poem praises Godwin, it invokes an argument that the two shared over theological matters. After the poem was written, the relationship between Coleridge and Godwin cooled and the poem was not reprinted.
"To Southey" or "To Robert Southey" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 14 January 1795 Morning Chronicle as part of his Sonnets on Eminent Characters series. Robert Southey became a close friend of Coleridge during the summer of 1794 and the two originally formed a plan to start an ideal community together. Although the plan fell apart, Coleridge dedicated the poem to his friend and emphasized Southey's poetic abilities. Following the poem, Coleridge further drifted from Southey and the poem was not republished.
"To Sheridan" or "To Richard Brinsley Sheridan" was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and published in the 29 January 1795 Morning Chronicle. As the last poem running as part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series, it describes Coleridge's appreciation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his theatre talents. Coleridge, unlike most, preferred Sheridan's somber works over his comedies and emphasizes them within the poem. Coleridge also respects Sheridan's political actions.
"To Lord Stanhope" is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was published in his 1796 collection of poems. The subject, Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope, had originally shared political views with Coleridge, but as time passed, Coleridge's views gradually shifted. By 1803, Coleridge was claiming that he did not want the poem published anymore and that it was originally intended to mock those who held the beliefs which Coleridge had held years earlier. It is part of the Sonnets on Eminent Characters series, although it was not published in the Morning Chronicle unlike the others in the series. There is, however, a possible predecessor sonnet to the 1796 version that some editors have attributed to Coleridge.