In this installment, Don Paterson reads “Let me not deem that I was made in vain” by Hartley Coleridge. Paterson is the author is numerous volumes of poetry, including Nil Nil (1993), which was awarded the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, God’s Gift to Women (1997), which won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and Landing Light (2003), which won both the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award. He has also been awarded an Eric Gregory Award, a Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Award, and his poem ‘A Private Bottling’ won the Arvon Foundation International Poetry Competition in 1993. Other published volumes include adaptations of poems by Machado and Rilke, contemporary plays, and several collected anthologies. He is poetry editor for Picador (London). His recitation of Hartley Coleridge’s poem was recorded live at the International Coleridge Conference in Cannington, UK.
Hartley Coleridge, “Let me not deem that I was made in vain”
LET me not deem that I was made in vain,
Or that my being was an accident
Which Fate, in working its sublime intent,
Not wished to be, to hinder would not deign.
Each drop uncounted in a storm of rain
Hath its own mission, and is duly sent
To its own leaf or blade, not idly spent
‘Mid myriad dimples on the shipless main.
The very shadow of an insect’s wing,
For which the violet cared not while it stayed,
Yet felt the lighter for its vanishing,
Proved that the sun was shining by its shade.
Then can a drop of the eternal spring,
Shadow of living lights, in vain be made?