Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Nose

Ye souls unus’d to lofty verse
Who sweep the earth with lowly wing,
Like sand before the blast disperse —
A Nose! a mighty Nose I sing!
As erst Prometheus stole from heaven the fire
To animate the wonder of his hand;
Thus with unhallow’d hands, O Muse, aspire,
And from my subject snatch a burning brand!
So like the Nose I sing — my verse shall glow —
Like Phlegethon my verse in waves of fire shall flow!

Light of this once all darksome spot
Where now their glad course mortals run,
First-born of Sirius begot
Upon the focus of the Sun —
I’ll call thee — ! for such thy earthly name —
What name so high, but what too low must be?
Comets, when most they drink the solar flame
Are but faint types and images of thee!

Burn madly, Fire! o’er earth in ravage run,
Then blush for shame more red by fiercer — outdone!

I saw when from the turtle feast
The thick dark smoke in volumes rose!
I saw the darkness of the mist
Encircle thee, O Nose!
Shorn of thy rays thou shott’st a fearful gleam
(The turtle quiver’d with prophetic fright)
Gloomy and sullen thro’ the night of steam: —
So Satan’s Nose when Dunstan urg’d to flight,
Glowing from gripe of red-hot pincers dread
Athwart the smokes of Hell disastrous twilight shed!

The Furies to madness my brain devote —
In robes of ice my body wrap!
On billowy flames of fire I float,
Hear ye my entrails how they snap?
Some power unseen forbids my lungs to breathe!
What fire-clad meteors round me whizzing fly!
I vitrify thy torrid zone beneath,
Proboscis fierce! I am calcined! I die!
Thus, like great Pliny, in Vesuvius’ fire,
I perish in the blaze while I the blaze admire.

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