Treasure Island

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

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The Suicide's Argument


Ere the birth of my life, if I wished it or no
No question was asked me--it could not be so !
If the life was the question, a thing sent to try
And to live on be YES; what can NO be ? to die.

NATURE'S ANSWER

Is't returned, as 'twas sent ? Is't no worse for the wear ?
Think first, what you ARE ! Call to mind what you WERE !
I gave you innocence, I gave you hope,
Gave health, and genius, and an ample scope,
Return you me guilt, lethargy, despair ?
Make out the invent'ry ; inspect, compare !
Then die--if die you dare !

Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2001
Edited: Monday, May 14, 2001

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  • Alice Bently (6/23/2013 8:00:00 AM)

    i am not angry.. I am always here.. Thank you god. No guilt. I am sorry.. I love you. I am here.. You gave me so much.. I thank you with my heart. (Report) Reply

  • Aftab Alam Khursheed (6/23/2013 12:32:00 AM)

    Human being is so treacherous what we get tries to return making it useless, At a stretch one who adopt the suicide they think useless the gift of life and think it is forcefully given and hence they want a wishful return making it useless (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (6/23/2012 10:48:00 PM)

    Two lines I think emerge violently from the whole writing for the SUICIDER which I consider as the manifesto to take the decision of committing OR not-committing suicide:

    1] Think first, what you ARE! Call to mind what you WERE!

    2] Then die-if die you dare!

    After all suicide is the last weapon to confront the intense adversity for a non-compromising personality. The Poem is a brave work to give suicide an institutional recognition. Nice put from the old master.

    Pranab k chakraborty (Report) Reply

  • Merry Virgo (6/23/2010 10:00:00 PM)

    wow....Im glad i saw you here my dearest
    ...you are my favorite poet you know that?
    hehe....I am so blessed I found you here...
    now I can read all your poems...
    nice one...
    god bless....
    yours, merrypens (Report) Reply

  • Joey Valenzuela (6/23/2010 9:57:00 PM)

    Coleridge pointed out: DO NOT COMMIT SUICIDE
    in the line:
    Then die-if die you dare

    and the argument of the creator there interfered.....
    as it says: Think first

    because:
    I gave you innocence, I gave you hope,
    Gave health, and genius, and an ample scope,

    Return you me guilt, lethargy, despair? +++++(think twice if you really wanna hurt me, says nature [or maybe nature represents GOD]) (Report) Reply

  • Undead Perez (6/23/2010 7:52:00 PM)

    Everyone needs to stop over-analyzing the poem. I mean if theres anything to discuss, then do indeed discuss the utterly amazing feeling it leaves behind after reading it. No one will ever know what Samuel Taylor Coleridge meant or was feeling when he wrote this. Maybe, thats a good thing because perhaps its purpose is to help you all find the meaning for yourself on your own accounts not with what you think he was trying to portray. Just relish in the beauty of this awesome poem and be content with that :) (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (6/23/2010 3:30:00 PM)

    For the multitudes of humanity who believe in a personal creator, the concept of God having written himself into his creation NATURE, is common throughout many religions. The concept of nature communicating to humanity in nature’s language, is also common in all hunter gatherer and nomadic societies. The Great Spirit communicating to Native American First Nation cultures, through nature as a real-life physical interdependence in relationship, in the web of Creation is one such example. The wilderness instills insists upon a voice in great literature like The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London, where nature definitely imposes survival rules, ignored at our peril.
    Harmon correctly defines Ruskin's 'pathetic fallacy' as descriptions of inanimate objects with human capabilities, sensations or emotions. Coleridge’s lines in “Christabel” ‘The one red leaf, the last of its clan, /That dances as often as dance it can’ is good 'pathetic fallacy'. This personification which the Greeks called prosopopeia, is inanimate objects endowed with life or human feelings and attributes, and this concept imbues Greek philosophy, in a world where pagan gods and such forces were as real as television and radio waves are for us today.

    Ruskin claimed such lines even if incredibly beautiful were false and morbid, therefore Shakespeare, the romantics and almost all poets by Ruskin’s definition would be morbid. Ruskin believed the use of 'pathetic fallacy' was valid only for the greatest poets, upon rare occasions when it would be, to quote M. H. Abrams, ‘inhuman to resist the pressure of powerful feelings to humanize perceived fact’. Ruskin recognized an extraordinary emotive influence of nature.

    A possible rational explanation for suicide, especially youth suicide, is examined in my poem ‘State Of 20th Century Man’, which when written in January 1982; was considered not publishable, due to the consideration it might upset some readers. A violation of sense and sensibility at that time. (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (6/23/2010 2:10:00 PM)

    I have to agree with Coleridge. Heck, I reconstructed this argument myself before I ever read this poem.
    What makes you deserve to die? It's fun, if anything.
    Not the point, Mr. Straw... I think you misinterpret Coleridge's idea of 'nature's argument'.
    It's more of an 'everything else' idea rather than a 'mother nature's rules' idea.
    More like half of 'God's' manifestation in Brave New World. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/23/2010 5:34:00 AM)

    The state of mind in which one actually kills oneself does not admit of reason. I saw a young girl commit suicide - rather I saw the flight of her body from a seventh floor window. I read in the local paper later that she had broken up with her boyfriend the day before she killed herself. I rather think Nature's admonition in Coleridge's poem would have been the last thing on her mind as she jumped.

    If someone commits suicide “rationally”, then it is because there are considerations such as honour which outweigh any other. Shakespeare’s Antony committed suicide because the life he considered worth living was ended and only humiliation and disgrace awaited him. Nature, in Coleridge’s terms would have nothing to say to him.

    There is a huge gulf between contemplating and committing suicide. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (6/23/2010 4:08:00 AM)

    Suicide is an escape mechanism from situations. People who attempt suicide, are escaping. Such as being in a burning building on a high floor. Panic invokes and escape predominates the situation. Really rational thoughts are overpowered by panic and fear. His manifest of questions are rational and thus out of context of suicides motives. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (6/23/2010 2:33:00 AM)

    Wise questions provoking philosophical ideas Coleridge has written typical poetry of his calibre maintaining his great status among romantic poets forever here! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (6/23/2009 9:45:00 PM)

    I. Argumentum ad Hominem (abusive and circumstantial) : the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack.
    A. The personal attack is also often termed an 'ad personem argument': the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is ignored, and the locutor's character or circumstances are used to influence opinion.
    B. The fallacy draws its appeal from the technique of 'getting personal.' The assumption is that what the locutor is saying is entirely or partially dictated by his character or special circumstances and so should be disregarded.
    http: //philosophy.lander.edu/logic/person.html (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/23/2009 8:08:00 PM)

    You are a bit much, Michael Harmon! No one has suggested the term is pejorative, except that it is a fallacy, and most of us who read and study poetry realize that is the case! I do not get the point you seem to make over and over again and at such great length each and every time you post a comment. Of course, it's a figure of speech, and what is the point of your 'citation needed' references? Cite what's needed and get on with it, for God's sake, man! Did none of your teachers in composition stress the importance of making your case without tons of useless bombast? You think Marcos and lovely sounds have a clue as to what you're spouting about? I think I know what you're up to and I'm not impressed! For the sake of brevity, man, don't quote verbatim an entry from Wikipedia, all right? It's not exactly the scholarly reference you take it to be! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (6/23/2009 4:52:00 PM)

    Pathetic fallacy
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The pathetic fallacy or anthropomorphic fallacy is the treatment of inanimate objects as if they had human feelings, thought, or sensations.[citation needed] The pathetic fallacy is a special case of the fallacy of reification. The word 'pathetic' in this use is related to empathy (capability of feeling) , and is not pejorative.
    The pathetic fallacy is also related to the concept of personification. Personification is direct and explicit in the ascription of life and sentience to the thing in question, whereas the pathetic fallacy is much broader and more allusive.

    [edit] History
    The term was coined by the critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) in his 1856 work Modern Painters, in which he wrote that the aim of the pathetic fallacy was “to signify any description of inanimate natural objects that ascribes to them human capabilities, sensations, and emotions.' In the narrow sense intended by Ruskin, the pathetic fallacy is a scientific failing, since most of his defining paper[1] concerns art, which he maintains ought to be its truthful representation of the world as it appears to our senses, not as it appears in our imaginative and fanciful reflections upon it. However, in the natural sciences, a pathetic fallacy is a serious error in scientific reasoning if taken literally.
    [edit] In literature
    Literary critics after Ruskin have generally not followed him in regarding the pathetic fallacy as an artistic mistake, instead assuming that attribution of sentient, humanising traits to inanimate things is a centrally human way of understanding the world, and that it does have a useful and important role in art and literature. Indeed, to reject the use of pathetic fallacy would mean dismissing most Romantic poetry and many of Shakespeare's most memorable images. Literary critics find it useful to have a specific term for describing anthropomorphic tendencies in art and literature and so the phrase is currently used in a neutral sense. Josephine Miles in Pathetic Fallacy in the Nineteenth Century: A Study of a Changing Relation Between Object and Emotion, influenced by William Wordsworth’s discussion of the practice, argues that “pathetic bestowal” is a neutral and therefore preferable label. However labeled, the practice occurs in any number of accomplished twentieth-century writers, including William Carlos Williams, Theodore Roethke, Mary Oliver, Eavan Boland, and John Ashbery.
    It is a rhetorical figure and a form of personification. In the strictest sense, delivering this fallacy should be done to render analogy.[citation needed] Other reasons to deliver this fallacy are mnemonic.[citation needed]
    [edit] Examples
    Ruskin quotes a stanza from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Maud as an 'exquisite' example of pathetic fallacy:
    There has fallen a splendid tear
    From the passion-flower at the gate.
    She is coming, my dove, my dear;
    She is coming, my life, my fate.
    The red rose cries, 'She is near, she is near; '
    And the white rose weeps, 'She is late; '
    The larkspur listens, 'I hear, I hear; '
    And the lily whispers, 'I wait.' (Part 1, XXII,10) (Report) Reply

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