“Work Without Hope” Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Using Contrast to Emphasize Lack of Hope

The 1825 Romantic era poem Work Without Hope” by Samuel Taylor is a lamentation of a man who lacks an object to place his hope and thus, wonders aimlessly and directionless amid nature. While slightly unconventional for a sonnet, the poem begins with the speaker romanticizing nature and how it seems busy going on with its unfading life, blooming only for itself. The poet then introduces a sharp contrast between these nature’s activities with his own lack of hope and an object of desire to keep hope alive. In several instances, the author employs this literary device – contrast – to underscore the misery from being directionless and hopeless and to build on the poem’s main theme: hope.

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