The Only Man; A Meditation on Coleridge’s Poem Where He Meditates on a Cataract

Lay open vestibule of our greatest minds,

Upon the lap of the only man in a quarter century

To open thy door, and see thy cataract.

The strophe and antistrophe

Which haven’t a soul

To espouse Grecian category’s empty words;

No, but to me you mean the top and bottom

Of those flawless chemicals of geometry;

A cataract, just like the Great Falls of Buffalo.

Am I the only man to see it for a quarter century?—

How so austere at first

It dances around my eyes,

The ugly ink and plain words.

Yet, it is perfect in meaning.


How does a man explain poetry

To those who never drink from its mousse?

It merely tells us what rests beyond all artifice

Into the meaning of these things

We might never take a passing glance.

Waterfalls might have a certain chemical,

Something between Geometry and Stars,

But do those chemicals have meaning?

Or, does the meaning create the chemicals?


A man who feels truth is very deceived,

Yet, if one could see the pure feeling of Niagara Falls

That my sinful self could not appreciate…

I will remember the feeling later, at a second glance

In a poem nobody has read for over twenty years.

And that is why I know there is sin.

That is why I know there is such foulness.

I can know the feeling then and now

Both the same, but then I would not chew upon it.

Today, without beholding what my eyes had once seen,

I can see it once again, and in that sight,

Understand what sin truly was.

A lie we tell ourselves to spoil what is good and right before our eyes.

Then, later, one meditates on it from afar,

Without the beauty before flesh’s eyes.

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