In this installment, Reginald Harris reads “Work without Hope” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Harris is the author of 10 Tongues (Three Conditions Press, 2002), and complier of Carry The Word: A Bibliography of Black LGBTQ Books (Vintage Entity Press, 2007). A finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the ForeWord Book of the Year, he has received Individual Artist Awards for both poetry and fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council. His work has recently appeared in the Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Writing and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South anthologies, and other publications. He is Help Desk and Training Manager for the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Work without Hope”
ALL Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrighten’d, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.