“To Nature” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of the most important poets of the 18th and the early 19th century. He was a close friend of another very influential English poet, William Wordsworth, and his sister Dorothy – so close that he chose to move to the Lake District to live near them. The two Lake Poets profoundly influenced each other’s work; as co-authors of Lyrical Ballads, they ushered in the Romantic era in Britain.

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Wordsworth, one of the recognisable marks of the Romantic movement was a special kind of appreciation for nature. This time I would like to illustrate that using one of Coleridge’s poems titled, unsurprisingly, To Nature. Comparable to Wordsworth’s The Tables Turned, it is another ode-like praise of nature seen as the one true God, with the poet serving as its humble priest.

Below the poem you will find a vocabulary exercise designed for English language learners.

It may indeed be fantasy when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be; and if the wide world rings
In mock of this belief, it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee,
Thee only God! and thou shalt not despise
Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice.


Match the words highlighted in the poem with the following synonyms or definitions:

  • something felt deeply; sincere (adj.)
  • to try or attempt (v.)
  • inner, kept inside (adj.)
  • a state of confusion (n.)
  • ridicule, derision (n.)
  • to produce, supply (v.)
  • decorated with a pattern cut into it (adj.)
  • showing serious, intense interest or conviction (adj.)
  • a pleasant smell (n.)
  • worthless, with no value or success (adj.)
  • to hold (on) tightly (v.)
  • to follow or study in detail (v.)
  • religious, reverent, devout (adj.)

To check if you got everything right, click here for the answer key.

Do you have any thoughts on this poem or its message? Feel free to share them in the comments sections below!

To learn more about Coleridge, visit my Pinterest board dedicated to him and his works.

P.S. The featured image is a section of Scene in the Lake District painted by George Frederick Buchanan (1800-1864).

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