Reason

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Original Language English

...Finally, what is Reason ? You have often asked me; and this is my answer:--

     Whene'er the mist, that stands 'twixt God and thee,
     Sublimates to a pure transparency,
     That intercepts no light and adds no stain--
     There Reason is, and then begins her reign!

     But alas!

     --`tu stesso, ti fai grosso
          Col falso immaginar, si che non vedi
          Cio che vedresti, se l'avessi scosso.


     [You yourself blind yourself
     With delusion's dream, so you do not see
     What you'd see if you had shaken it off.]

-- from The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge / Edited by William Keach

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Just a few lines, but if you really read the selection it opens with deep insight...

The "Reason" he speaks of is not the modern sense of "logic." Coleridge is clearly speaking of Intelligence in the pure sense of Awareness, Consciousness.

I love the first two lines of that central verse:

Whene'er the mist, that stands 'twixt God and thee,
Sublimates to a pure transparency...


That "mist," that opaque space of perceived distance between the individual and God, between lover and Beloved, between self and Self... Through stillness and quiet witnessing, the busy mind settles, its obscuring filters thin and finally vanish. That's when the mist "sublimates," awareness becomes clear and transparent so that it "intercepts no light and adds no stain" -- in that pure spaciousness is where awareness becomes Awareness, where "Reason" is finally recognized. It is not that Awareness occupies that space, it IS that space, thus it "reigns."

--`tu stesso, ti fai grosso
Col falso immaginar, s che non vedi
Ci che vedresti, se l'avessi scosso.

[You yourself blind yourself
With delusion's dream, so you do not see
What you'd see if you had shaken it off.]


The closing verse is quoting from Dante's Paradiso in Italian (Canto 1, lines 88 - 90). Yes, Awareness is always there, the space of being but, sadly, we mist-ify it, and thus "blind" ourselves through our own mental projection and "delusion's dream." But, in that trap is also the key to liberation. By accepting our own role in drawing the veil in front of our eyes, we also begin to recognize we have the power to shake it off...



Recommended Books: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Major Works Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Annotated Ancient Mariner Coleridge's Writings: On the Sublime
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Reason