Study Guide

Dejection: An Ode Dissatisfaction

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Your significant other dumps you. Your favorite sports team loses. Your hamster dies in a terrible vacuuming accident. Let's face it: there are a million things in this life that can bum you out. But being sad is not a "one size fits all" proposition. On one side of the spectrum, you might just be irked. Let's say someone stepped on your brand new white kicks and didn't even say sorry. On the other hand, let's say that you realize that you don't really love the person you're with, but that you can never be with the person you truly love.

In that case, you might bypass "sad" altogether and go straight to "dejected"—just like our speaker does in "Dejection: an Ode." The emotions he's feeling aren't just run-of-the-mill sadness. He's profoundly down and out, lacking energy, hope, even imagination. That's a level of dissatisfaction that we hope we only have to read about in Romantic poems.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. What clues does the poem give us as to why the speaker is so dissatisfied?
  2. What strategies does the speaker use to describe his dissatisfaction?
  3. Are there any benefits to being dissatisfied? How might the speaker answer this question?
  4. Is the speaker cheered up by the end of this poem? How can you tell?

Chew on This

Dissatisfaction is a two-way street. Sure, it bums you out, but it also motivates you to do something about it—this poem is a perfect example of that.

The poem suggests that the biggest challenge of being dissatisfied is the speaker's loss of imagination.

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