'Tis Two Months Before the Month of May: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Mar 9, 2020

In this painting by William Dyce (1806-1864), Coleridge's Christabel is imagined praying near the huge oak tree, though in the poem, this scene happens near the middle of the night.

To slightly modify the words of English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, we're two months before the month of May, and with Full Moon and the direct motion of Mercury both occurring this Monday, March 9th, we’re headlong into the season’s finale!

Coleridge’s poem Christabel is one of his most famous, though he never fully finished it. The poem uses a poetic device of four accentual beats per line, no matter the number of syllables. This technic lends itself to the mounting mystery of the poem, almost like Spring, tugging on the ragged edge of Winter in order to be set free. 

The poem contains a wonderful description that can be applied to the night sky this week:

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…

Christabel is a haunting Gothic poem that conjures the tension when innocence and virtue encounter demonic seduction. Coleridge planned to publish the poem in a book he was preparing with his friend William Wordsworth, but he never finished it, as though leaving his readers with perpetual Winter, when Spring would beckon!

The Moon will rise 7:45 pm Monday night, then the messenger Mercury will turn direct a few hours after, just in time for an evening walk, to offer Coleridge’s unfinished poem to the waning Winter night.

She stole along, she nothing spoke,

The sighs she heaved were soft and low,

And naught was green upon the oak

But moss and rarest misteltoe:

She kneels beneath the huge oak tree,

And in silence prayeth she.

Find a link to Coleridge's unfinished poem Christabel at this link.