"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 (under the same title) 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.
Towards the end of 1794, Coleridge began writing a series of sonnets called Sonnets on Eminent Characters. The first sonnet, "To Erskine", was printed on 1 December in the Morning Chronicle, and 10 more sonnets followed. Coleridge's sonnet "To Kosciusko" was the fifth in the series, printed on 16 December. The poem was revised twice, first for a 1796 collection and then for an 1828 collection of Coleridge's poems. It remained in that final form for the two collections that followed, in 1829 and 1834.
Kosciusko was a Polish national who led Poland in rebellion against two countries, Prussia and Russia, during the spring of 1794. When the rebellion was crushed by that October, he was captured by Russian forces and held as a prisoner. Coleridge knew few details about the specifics, and altered his poem when he found out that Kosciusko was merely wounded and captured instead of being killed.
The British Romantic poets favoring of Kosciusko as a hero can be traced to Coleridge, and Leigh Hunt published his own sonnet on Kosciusko in the 19 November 1815 Examiner. Following this, Keats wrote his version of the sonnet in December 1816 and published it in the 16 February 1817 examiner.
The 1796 edition of the poem reads:
O what a loud and fearful shriek was there,
As tho' a thousand souls one death-groan pour'd!
Ah me! they view'd beneath an hireling's sword
Fall'n KOSCIUSKO! Thro' the burthen'd air
(As pauses the tir'd Cossac's barb'rous yell
Of Triumph) on the chill and midnight gale
Rises with frantic burst or sadder swell
The dirge of murder'd Hope! while Freedom pale
Bends in such anguish o'er her destin'd bier,
As if from eldest time some Spirit meek
Had gather'd in a mystic urn each tear
That ever furrow'd a sad Patriot's cheek;
And she had drain'd the sorrows of the bowl
Ev'n till she reel'd, intoxicate of soul!
Coleridge's uncertainty of Kosciusko's state after the defeat of the Polish rebellion is shown in the original 3rd and 4th line:
Great KOSCIUSKO, 'neath an Hireling's sword,
His Country view'd.—Hark! thro' the list'ning air,— lines 3–4
For the 1828 edition and later printings of the poem, the final lines read:
That ever on a Patriot's furrowed cheek
Fit channel found; and she had drained the bowl
In the mere wilfulness, and sick despair of soul!— lines 12–14
Hunt, like Coleridge, saw Kosciusko as a hero, admiring his character during the Polish rebellion and, as the subtitle suggests, his having "never fought either for Buonaparte or the allies".Hunt's version reads:
'Tis like thy patient valour thus to keep,
Great Kosciusko, to the rural shade,
While Freedom's ill-found amulet still is made
Pretence for old aggression, and a heap
Of selfish mockeries. There, as in the sweep
Of stormier fields, thou earnest with thy blade,
Transform'd, not inly alter'd, to the spade,
Thy never yielding right to a calm sleep.
There came a wanderer, borne from land to land
Upon a couch, pale, many-wounded, mild,
His brow with patient pain dulcetly sour.
Men stoop'd with awful sweetness on his hand,
And kiss'd it; and collected Virtue smiled,
To think how sovereign her enduring hour.
Following Coleridge's poem, Keats wrote his own sonnet called "To Kosciusko". Keats's version reads:
Good Kosciusko, thy great name alone
Is a full harvest whence to reap high feeling:
It comes upon us like the glorious pealing
Of the wide spheres-an everlasting tone.
And now it tells me, that in the worlds unknown,
The names of heroes, burst from clouds concealing,
And changed to harmonies, for ever stealing
Through cloudless blue, and round each silver throne.
It tells me too, that on a happy day,
When some good spirit walks upon the earth,
Thy name with Alfred's, and the great of yore
Gently commingling, gives tremendous birth
To a loud hymn, that sounds far, far away
To where the great God lives for evermore.
Kosciusko was a hero to Coleridge as a patriot, even though Kosciusko was Polish and many of Coleridge's political heroes were British.Hunt and Keats viewed Kosciusko as a political ideal that was connected to King Alfred, a figure twho was believed to have established English constitutional liberty.
The praise within the poem is similar to how Coleridge praised Fayette; he believed that both were political prisoners who were martyred for their beliefs.Coleridge discussed Kosciusko and the issues surrounding Poland in many of his works, including during a lecture series that Coleridge gave in 1795 and articles within Coleridge's newspaper, Watchman.
The first four lines of Coleridge's poem are related in style to Thomas Campbell's The Pleasures of Hope, with the line "And Freedom shriek'd when Koskiusko fell" in particular. However, Campbell did not come up with the phrasing on his own. Instead, he based his phrasing on an ode by John Dennis with a line that reads, "Fair Liberty shriek'd out aloud, aloud Religion groan'd".
"Ode to Psyche" is a poem by John Keats written in spring 1819. The poem is the first of his 1819 odes, which include "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and "Ode to a Nightingale". "Ode to Psyche" is an experiment in the ode genre, and Keats's attempt at an expanded version of the sonnet format that describes a dramatic scene. The poem serves as an important departure from Keats's early poems, which frequently describe an escape into the pleasant realms of one's imagination. Keats uses the imagination to show the narrator's intent to resurrect Psyche and reincarnate himself into Eros (love). Keats attempts this by dedicating an "untrodden region" of his mind to the worship of the neglected goddess.
"Monody on the Death of Chatterton" was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1790 and was rewritten throughout his lifetime. The poem deals with the idea of Thomas Chatterton, a poet who committed suicide, as representing the poetic struggle.
The Destruction of the Bastile was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1789. The poem describes Coleridge's feelings of hopes for the French Revolution as a catalyst for political change.
On Receiving an Account that his only Sister's Death was Inevitable was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1794, and deals with the death of Coleridge's step-sister Ann (1791), as well as that of his brother Luke (1790). A later poem, was written for Coleridge's friend Charles Lamb and seeks to comfort him after the loss of his sister.
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 sonnet by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Though its date of creation is uncertain, it was possibly composed in 1793. It deals with the image of the River Otter, near Coleridge's childhood home in Devon.
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 by critics as a means to mock him.
Fears in Solitude, written in April 1798, is one of the conversation poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The poem was composed while France threatened to invade Great Britain. Although Coleridge was opposed to the British government, the poem sides with the British people in a patriotic defense of their homeland. The poem also emphasizes a desire to protect one's family and to live a simple life in harmony with nature. The critical response to the poem was mixed, with some critics claiming that the work was "alarmist" and anti-British.
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, who successfully served in the defense of three political radicals during the 1794 Treason Trials. Coleridge admired Erskine's defense and praised his 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 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 Pitt" is a political poem 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. It also discusses Bowles's political beliefs, which helped shape 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 Coleridge became fond of during his visits to London during college. The poem celebrates watching Siddons perform her various roles on stage. The actual authorship of the poem is uncertain, since it was attributed to Charles Lamb in various works. It is possible that Lamb and Coleridge worked on the poem together, and, if so, it would be 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.
The sonnet was a popular form of poetry during the Romantic period: William Wordsworth wrote 523, John Keats 67, Samuel Taylor Coleridge 48, and Percy Bysshe Shelley 18. But in the opinion of Lord Byron sonnets were “the most puling, petrifying, stupidly platonic compositions”, at least as a vehicle for love poetry, and he wrote no more than five.