Study Guide

Christabel The Conclusion to Part II

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The Conclusion to Part II

The Conclusion to Part II

A little child, a limber elf,
Singing, dancing to itself,
A fairy thing with red round cheeks,
That always finds, and never seeks,
Makes such a vision to the sight
As fills a father's eyes with light;
And pleasures flow in so thick and fast
Upon his heart, that he at last
Must needs express his love's excess
With words of unmeant bitterness.
Perhaps 'tis pretty to force together
Thoughts so all unlike each other;
To mutter and mock a broken charm,
To dally with wrong that does no harm.
Perhaps 'tis tender too and pretty
At each wild word to feel within
A sweet recoil of love and pity.
And what, if in a world of sin
(O sorrow and shame should this be true!)
Such giddiness of heart and brain
Comes seldom save from rage and pain,
So talks as it 's most used to do.

  • The conclusion to Part II, and thus to the poem as we have it, is a bit shocking and strange—especially coming right after the intense scene just before.
  • While the first conclusion gave us a recap of the events in Part I, this conclusion seems to take on a whole different tone. It doesn't ask questions or play the coy bystander like the first conclusion does. Instead, it kind of hits us over the head with this explanation of why fathers do cruel things to their children—even when they love them dearly.
  • If you're a little confused and feel like the poem has taken a left turn, you're not alone. Even scholars have been thrown for a loop with this one. In fact, there are a lot of different ideas about what Coleridge was trying to do here.
  • In one of Coleridge's published notebooks (see the "Books" section over in "Best of the Web") he wrote, "A kindhearted man obliged to give a refusal, or the like, that will give great pain, finds relief in doing it roughly & fiercely—explain this & use it in Christabel." It seems that this final part of the completed poem attempts to do just that.

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