COLERIDGE, SAMUEL TAYLOR (1772-1834, poet, critic, philosopher, conversationalist)
God be with thee, gladsome Ocean! How gladly greet I thee once more -- Ships and Waves and endless Motion And Life rejoicing on thy shore...
...O ye Hopes that stir within me, Health comes with you from above. God is with me, God is in me, I cannot die, if Life be Love.
This charming poem was first published in the Morning Post on 15 September 1801 and was included in Sibylline Leaves. E.H. Coleridge, The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1912, i. pp. 359-360, prints in footnotes the numerous variant readings different in the final text from that in a letter to Robert Southey and a manuscript in the possession of Miss Arnold at Foxhow.
Thomas Hutchinson was to become the brother-in-law of William Wordsworth in 1802. He ran a farm at Gallow Hill near Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. 'Coleridge, whose left knee was conveniently swollen ("pregnant with agony") submitted to a local doctor's prescription of horse-exercises & warm Sea-bathing every day. He was advised to use the enclosed salt-water baths, but characteristically plunged into the open sea the moment he reached the beach, having 'Faith in the Ocean.' "I bathed regularly, frolicked in the Billows, and did me a proper deal of good'" (Richard Holmes, Coleridge Early Visions, 1989, p. 305). More importantly, the visit gave him the opportunity to spend unfettered time with Sara ('Asra') Hutchinson, with whom by then he was deeply in love.
'Now with his creative struggles, his illness, the isolating effects of opium, he was seeking emotional escape: fantasies of exotic climates, revived dreams of a Pantisocratic colony, flirtations with the Hutchinson sisters. Yet he was also seeking, in his own instinctive way, a genuine convalescence: a revival of his powers, a revival of love, a renewal of his sense of worth as a man. Something of this was caught in a curiously formal little poem he now wrote, and despatched to The Morning Post, entitled "On Revisiting the Sea-Shore, After Long Absence." The last time he had seen the sea was at Porlock...The poem was formal (like a lyric by Samuel Rogers) because it was public. For Coleridge now found himself having to disguise the reality of his private feelings' (Holmes, op. cit. pp. 306-307).