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The perception of "Time" according to: S.T. Coleridge, Freddie Mercury, Thomas Carlyle and Tom Waits

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) Listen to the presentation and answer the following questions:


  • - What kind of child was he?

  • - Why did he get Opium?

  • - What did he do in Pennsylvania?

  • - Who did he meet at the age of 25?

  • - What is “Lyrical Ballads”?

  • - Was he a healthy man?


Time, Real and Imaginary (1817)

‘Time, Real and Imaginary’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is concerned with how time progresses. The speaker uses the narrative of two children to discuss it.

In the first lines of ‘Time, Real and Imaginary,’ the speaker sets the scene. He states that there are two children running on the top of a mountain. The ground is fairly level, but as one finds out later, it is sometimes “smooth” and sometimes “rough”. The sister leads the boy but, because he’s blind, he doesn’t realize. He’s unaware if he’s ahead or behind. He runs blissfully and carelessly. She continually turns around the check on him, but despite his blindness, he doesn’t stumble.

On the wide level of a mountain's head (I knew not where, but 'twas some faery place),

Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread,

Two lovely children run an endless race, A sister and a brother! This far outstripp'd the other; Yet ever runs she with reverted face, And looks and listens for the boy behind: For he, alas! is blind! O'er rough and smooth with even step he pass'd,

And knows not whether he be first or last.

Coleridge makes use of metaphor or comparison that does not utilize “like” or “as”.

- Can you find any in the poem? What does he mean to emphasize?


In the first lines of ‘Time, Real and Imaginary’ the speaker describes an imaginary scene. There are two children, playing on the “wide level” top of a mountain. It’s interesting to note that the mountain’s head is “level” or flat. This allows the children to move freely, without encountering any major obstacles one might associate with the peak of a mountain.

- Who are these two children and what/who do they represent?

The second line is in parentheses, noting that the speaker lacks a very specific piece of knowledge. He knows the children were playing, but he doesn’t know where. In the next lines of ‘Time, Real and Imaginary’, Coleridge compares the children’s arms to “pinions” or the outer part of a bird’s wing. Continuing this metaphor, the children are said to be “ostrich-like”. They move as large birds, with arms cast out. Another metaphor comes into play when the speaker compares their arms to “out-spread” sails.

- Can you explain this metaphor?

Their progress through the world is described as “an endless race”. Together, brother and sister, move through time without stopping. There is a clear joy in this fact portrayed through Coleridge’s use of exclamations. In the next lines of ‘Time, Real and Imaginary’ the speaker states that one sibling, the sister, “outstripp’d” the other. But, despite her head start or her faster pace, she continues to look behind her. She runs “with reverted face”. This isn’t out of fear or distraction, instead she “looks and listens for the boy behind her”. She knows she has to keep an eye on her brother for, as the ninth line states, he “is blind!” There’s nothing she or the speaker can do about this, but it does not stop the two from running. No matter what the landscape throws at them, whether it’s “rough” or “smooth” the boy makes it through. In the last line, the boy’s ignorance in his own potion in “first or last” is outlined. He doesn’t know if he’s running in front of his sister or behind her. This fact provides the reader with a little more information. It’s clear that the sister makes no noise as she runs, nor does she call back to him.

- Explain the true, deep meaning behind this story


Now listen to the following song. Fill in the gaps, and compare it, if possibile, with the poem we have just read and discussed.


TIME (1986) by Freddie Mercury

... Time waits for nobody Time waits for nobody We all must plan our _________ together

And we'll have no more future at all Time waits for nobody ... We might as well be _______and dumb and ___________

I know that sounds unkind But it seems to me We've not listened to Or ____________ about it at all The fact that time was ________ out for us all

... Time waits for nobody Time waits for no one We've got to build this world together

Or we'll have no more future at all

Because time It waits for nobody Nobody

... You don't need me to tell you what's gone __________

You know what's going on And it seems to me we've not _______ enough Or confided in each other at all It seems like we've all got our ______ against the_________

... Time waits for nobody Time waits for no one We've got to trust one another Or we'd have no more future at all ... Because time Waits for nobody Waits for nobody Time waits for no one Best not to be __________ with one another Or we'd have no more future at all Time waits for nobody ... For nobody, nobody, nobody For no one

THOMAS CARLYLE 1795-1881


Listen to this short presentation and decide what Carlyle thought of...

“Life is a little gleam of time between two eternities


Explain and translate the following poem by Carlyle:


Today (1840)

So here hath been dawning

Another blue Day: Think wilt thou let it Slip useless away.

Out of Eternity This new Day is born; Into Eternity, At night, will return.

Behold it aforetime

No eye ever did: So soon it forever

From all eyes is hid.

Here hath been dawning

Another blue Day: Think wilt thou let it Slip useless away.


You can never hold back spring.

You can be sure that I will never

Stop believing The blushing rose will climb

Spring ahead or fall behind

Winter dreams the same dream

Every time You can never hold back spring

Even though you've lost your way

The world keeps dreaming of spring

So close your eyes Open you heart To one who's dreaming of you

Baby you can never hold back spring Remember everything that spring

Can bring You can never hold back spring

  • - What is this song about?

  • - What is “spring” and what is “winter”?

  • - What does the title mean?

  • - Explain the lines: So close your eyes / Open you heart / To one who's dreaming of you

  • - Pick up all the words and expressions in red; compare them and explain their meaning. Which of the four works can be compared and why?





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