The Pains of Withdrawal: An Analysis and Explanation of S.T. Coleridge's "The Pains of Sleep"

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The Pains of Withdrawal:

An Analysis and

Explication of

S.T. Coleridge's

"The Pains of Sleep"

In this poem, Coleridge reveals his reluctance to sleep and the reasons behind the reluctance. What he doesn't happen upon in his lyrical exploration of his guilt ridden dreams, is that the, what we would refer to as the depression he is experiencing, is most likely caused by his withdrawal from Opiates. Also exacerbating the symptoms is the fact that his is still using Ether for his "fits" (Abrams et al. 462). From a poetic standpoint, "The Pains of Sleep" is well layered, interesting, and if one is simply reading it, is enjoyable. However, when analyzing this poem, the reader can't help but ask if Coleridge's dependency on Opiates contributed heavily to the subject matter. One does not have to be a substance abuse expert to read between the lines and discover the answer to that question.

Coleridge opens the piece with himself in bed, lying there, quiet, welcoming the sleep that awaits him. He makes the point of saying, "It hath not been my

use to pray", this statement can be viewed in two ways. He could simply be

taking a swipe at the Church or, as I believe, he is foreshadowing the fact that

he will indeed be praying for peaceful sleep by poems end. He describes at

great length the feeling of confidence he has, "Since in me, round me, every

where Eternal strength and wisdom are". He is drifting off to Neverland with

absolutely no idea what awaits him. Coleridge was probably able to avoid the

pains of withdrawal during the daytime because he was still using the anesthetic

Ether. At Bedtime he most likely took one more big huff and hopped in bed, thus

the ability to go...