Frost at midnight by Coleridge is a conversational poem set in an isolated cottage during the tranquility of night. The tone is personal and enweaves a religious process within a dream connotation. “The Frost performs its secret ministry” at the beginning of stanza one, is implied personification used to establish a magical and religious air, this is done so as to synchronize with the overwhelming silence of nature and the natural act of frost falling outside. Such technique of nature’s simple act establishes an atmospheric feel of magic and religion working simultaneously to embellish an effect of overwhelming silence which lets the protagonist begin his imaginative journey.
The word ‘ministry’ implies a religious connotation which forms a paradigm of pantheism as Coleridge contrasts the metaphysical of nature with associations of religious undertones.
This concept of performing its secret ministry is used to create the effect for the responder to begin to understand how the empowering atmospheric effect makes Coleridge’s begin to verge within his mind and undertake an imaginative journey.
At home within the confounds of his cottage, Coleridge due to the surroundings, sits alone late at night, ‘the inmates… have left me to that solitude, which suits abstruse musings’ the strong word solitude emotionally conveys how disturbing it feels for himself to be isolated, this is paradoxical to the fact that he is not physically isolated but comments upon that such eerie stillness and silence of the house provokes obscure emotional thoughts and reflections.
Moving systolically panning in and out of thought and surroundings, the poem begins drawing in the attention of the responder by such technique to ultimately gain such an emotive situation of inner thought and begin to undertake the journey into the imagination as well.
Coleridge muses in front of a dying fire. His mind and spirit begin to journey back to his school days as he focuses on a small piece of ash film fluttering in grate of the fire. This physical entity becomes the central symbol of Coleridge’s consciousness as he describes it as ‘the sole unquiet thing’. In a position of emotive isolation Coleridge compares the ash film to himself. ‘Its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it sympathies with me who live, Making it a companionable form.’ Assonance is used to justify such comparison and the exaggeration of ‘me’ and ‘I’ are used, allowing the responder to identify with the emotion through paradigm. ‘Everywhere echo or mirror seeking of itself And making a toy of thought.’ The ash film exists as a symbol for the mind in which is a receptor of images of the outside world and becomes the ultimate stimulus, an emblem of isolation triggering child hood memories of school. By vicarious tone toward the emblem the protagonist creates a sense of a debauched and tribulated child life at school. The grate of the school is termed ‘bars’ and the teacher is regarded as a ‘guard’ rather than an instructor. Such unpleasant descriptive referential imagery creates perceptions of imprisonment letting the responder instantaneously emphasize and understand more purposefully the memories of Coleridge’s unpleasant life at school.
Moving from the past, stanza two moves by systolic rhythm from the past and pans the protagonist mind toward the present and onto his son, Hartley, who is sleeping soundlessly by his side. “Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,” Coleridge in stanza three brings himself and us back to the present with use of an apostrophe and direct address to his child. Doing so manipulates us as a responder to pan out back to the present. Religious overtones of Jesus wrapped in clothes and cradled when he was born. Such connotations emphasises the importance that this child is to the protagonist. His imagination now takes him into his Childs future where he vows that his baby will never endure the pain of his own childhood where he was separated from home, family and nature. Emotive words and language are used to empower us, the responder, to also celebrate the potential that this child has by growing up with sublime of nature.
“With tender gladness, thus look at thee, and think that thou shalt learn far other lore” This becomes the climatic moment in the poem, where Coleridge promises his son that he will grow up learning the language of nature, which, as God is in nature and nature is in God combing all to be the “Great universal teacher!” Sensory imagery highlights pantheism and the power of nature entwined with God as never stopping. In a moving lyrical conclusion, the poem becomes rich with imagery and themes of the sublime and pantheism embellish the realization that in order to grow all rounded within the mind, body and sprit, nature and God are essential to human unity. This is something ‘which thy God utters, who from eternity doth tech Himself in all, and all things in himself. Such words of the sublime, the teacher compose the proposition that within Coleridge’s imaginative journey he has propelled forth using his mind as a tool to come to a new understanding of the necessities for his Childs development with God and nature through the stimulus of his environment.
The repetition of the secret ministry of frost exemplifies the protagonists propelling forward positively as reference to such ministry was thought daunting and eerie so now being featured joyful and jubilant due to the child ample opportunities to simultaneously commune with the sublimity of God and nature and therefore gain a prosperous deeper spiritual life journey. The last stanza outlines his imaginative journey the poet calls the blessing of the seasons down on his child. ‘All seasons shall be sweet to thee” synclinal to take advantage of it all. Coleridge has used juxtaposition of opposition through out to further consolidate the protagonists past experiences of school and is a tool used to compare the differences in which his child will encounter in hopes to his own.
The poem in the last stanza returns systolicly backs to reality and the atmosphere surrounding him. Repeated reference of the frost of ministry unifies the poem bringing it back to the hush of the beginning fusing all time in the moment of the poem itself. Sound structure of ‘s’ in the last two lines creates a soothing sound and brings as a responder motions of calm and peace. These techniques bring Coleridge back to the present, to his room and to the frost at midnight. He has returned from his imaginative journey, having experienced the power of his imagination to transport him through time and place, and to places of the mind where he can commune with nature and God.