"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Archive for January 2015

Samuel Taylor Coleridge on Pain

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On Wednesday night I was seized with an intolerable pain from my right temple to the tip of my right shoulder, including my right eye, cheek, jaw, & that side of the throat– I was nearly frantic – and ran about the House naked, endeavouring by every means to excite sensations in different parts of my body, & so to weaken the enemy by creating a division. It continued from one in the morning till half past 5, & left me pale & fainty. – It came on fitfully but not so violently, several times on Thursday – and began severer threats towards night, but I took between 60 & 70 drops of Laudanum, and sopped the Cerberus just as his mouth began to open. On Friday it only niggled; as if the Chief had departed as from a conquered place, and merely left a small garrison behind, or as if he evacuated the Corsica,†1 & a few straggling pains only remained; but this morning he returned in full force, & his Name is Legion! – Giant-fiend of an hundred hands! with a shower of arrowy Death-pangs he transpierced me, & then he became a Wolf & lay gnawing my bones.– I am not mad, most noble Festus! – but in sober sadness I have suffered this day more bodily pain than I had before a conception of – . My right cheek has certainly been placed with admirable exactness under the focus of some invisible Burning-Glass, which concentrated all the Rays of a Tartarean Sun. – My medical attendant decides it to be altogether nervous, and that it originates either in severe application, or excessive anxiety. – My beloved Poole! in excessive anxiety, I believe, it might originate! – I have a blister under my right-ear, and I take 25 drops of Laudanum every five hours: the ease & spirits gained by which have enabled me to write you this flighty, but not exaggerating, account –. With a gloomy wantonness of Imagination I had been coquetting with the hideous Possibles of Disappointment – I drank fears, like wormwood; yea, made myself drunken with bitterness! for my ever-shaping & distrustful mind still mingled gall-drops, till out of the cup of Hope I almost poisoned myself with Despair!

Letter to Tom Poole, 5 November, 1796

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Written by sameo416

January 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm

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