Monday, April 28, 2014

To be a child...

When Coleridge was eight years old, he walked one winter evening with his father from a farmer's house home, and his father told him the names of some of the stars, how far they were from the earth, and so on.  Coleridge has written:

"I had heard him with a profound delight and admiration; but without the least mixture of wonder or incredulity.  For from my early reading of fairy tales and genii, etc., etc., my mind had been habituated to the Vast, and I never regarded my senses in any way as the criteria of my belief.  I regulated all my creeds by my conceptions, not by my sight:  even at that age.  Should children be permitted to read romances, and relations of giants and magicians and genii?  I know all that has been said against it; but I have formed my faith in the affirmative.  I know no other way of giving the mind a love of the Great and the Whole.  Those who have been led to the same truths step by step, through the constant testimony of their senses, seem to me to want a sense which I possess.  They contemplate nothing but parts, and all parts are necessarily little.  And the universe to them is but a mass of little things..."

"Know you what it is to be a child?  It is to be something very different from the man of today.  It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism; it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has its fairy godmother in its own soul; it is to live in a nutshell and count yourself the king of infinite space."

p. 156-157

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