Christabel "Spring Comes Slowly Up This Way"

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Spring Comes Slowly Up This Way"

Context: This tale of the supernatural begins with the midnight owls awakening the crowing cock–and both hooting owls and cocks crowing at midnight have connotations of the world of spirits. Sir Leoline, the baron, has an aged, toothless mastiff bitch that howls at midnight, four for the quarter-hours and twelve for the hour; some say that the old dog sees the shroud of the baron's dead wife. The night upon which the poem opens is chilly, but not dark, as a thin layer of clouds but partially veils the full moon, which looks small and dull. It is April, but spring is late in arriving in this region.

'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
And the owls have awakened the crowing cock;
And hark, again! the crowing cock,
How drowsily it crew.
Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;
From her kennel beneath the rock
She maketh answer to the clock,
Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour;
Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.
Is the night chilly and dark?
The night is chilly, but not dark.
The thin gray cloud is spread on high,
It covers but not hides the sky.
The moon is behind, and at the full;
And yet she looks both small and dull.
The night is chill, the cloud is gray:
'Tis a month before the month of May,
And the Spring comes slowly up this way.