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The Pains Of Withdrawal: An Analysis And Explanation Of S.T. Coleridge's "The Pains Of Sleep"

990 words - 4 pages

The Pains of Withdrawal:An Analysis andExplication ofS.T. Coleridge's"The Pains of Sleep"In this poem, Coleridge reveals his reluctance to sleep and the reasons behind the reluctance. What he doesn't happen upon in his lyrical exploration of his guilt ridden dreams, is that the, what we would refer to as the depression he is experiencing, is most likely caused by his withdrawal from Opiates. Also exacerbating the symptoms is the fact that his is still using Ether for his "fits" (Abrams et al. 462). From a poetic standpoint, "The Pains of Sleep" is well layered, interesting, and if one is simply reading it, is enjoyable. However, when analyzing this poem, the reader can't help but ask if Coleridge's dependency on Opiates contributed heavily to the subject matter. One does not have to be a substance abuse expert to read between the lines and discover the answer to that question.Coleridge opens the piece with himself in bed, lying there, quiet, welcoming the sleep that awaits him. He makes the point of saying, "It hath not been myuse to pray", this statement can be viewed in two ways. He could simply betaking a swipe at the Church or, as I believe, he is foreshadowing the fact thathe will indeed be praying for peaceful sleep by poems end. He describes atgreat length the feeling of confidence he has, "Since in me, round me, everywhere Eternal strength and wisdom are". He is drifting off to Neverland withabsolutely no idea what awaits him. Coleridge was probably able to avoid thepains of withdrawal during the daytime because he was still using the anestheticEther. At Bedtime he most likely took one more big huff and hopped in bed, thusthe ability to go to sleep. The problem is that the Ether would eventuallywear off and withdrawal pains would come knocking again, thus causing thenightmares that he chronicles in the following stanzas.The second stanza begins with the very vocal and intense praying that Coleridge made a point of saying he didn't do in line 2. He is praying for release from a terrible nightmare that is plaguing his sleep. He vividly describes aFrankensteinian search party/lynch mob absolutely maddened by some sort of grave injustice. He isn't able to identify the motivation of the "trampling throng",but knows there is a "Sense of intolerable wrong. And whom I scorned, thoseonly strong!". He feels an immeasurable guilt, but doesn't even know how he is involved, "Which all confused I could not know, Whether I suffered, or I did".It is interesting how honest Coleridge is in this poetic recount of his nightmare. He doesn't try to dress up the story or give it particularly glossy details, because there often isn't in nightmares, drug induced or not. I have had some of the strangest nightmares and specific details can't be recalled. I can remember general situations, like Coleridge uses, but...

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