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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Hartley Coleridge 1796–1849

The Birth of Speech


WHAT was’t awaken’d first the untried ear

Of that sole man who was all human kind?

Was it the gladsome welcome of the wind,

Stirring the leaves that never yet were sere?

The four mellifluous streams which flow’d so near,

Their lulling murmurs all in one combin’d?

The note of bird unnam’d? The startled hind

Bursting the brake—in wonder, not in fear,

Of her new lord? Or did the holy ground

Send forth mysterious melody to greet

The gracious pressure of immaculate feet?

Did viewless seraphs rustle all around,

Making sweet music out of air as sweet,

Or his own voice awake him with its sound?