Coleridge uses the recurring theme of imprisonment throughout the poem to indicate that he is unsettled and trapped by his thoughts. He uses inmates, bars and pent to convey this imagery. The stillness of the flame quivers not and the film fluttering being the sole unquiet thing also adds to his feeling of unrest. The rich imagery is very apparent in the third stanza where he describes the sky and stars, and lakes, mountains and clouds. This language must come from the influence of Coleridges early friendship with Wordsworth, especially with the quote shalt wander like a breeze, which could quite easily be taken from Wordsworths I wandered lonely as a cloud. He also mentions learning and teaching to give us a feeling of hope for his sons future and think that thou shall learn far other lore. He also relates this teaching theme to God, naming him Great universal Teacher! in the third stanza.
Both poets apply extensive use of repetition throughout their poems. Coleridge begins his poem with The Frost performs its secret ministry and uses this again in the third from last line the secret ministry of frost but this time he changes the word order to create a persona of the frost which makes an effective ending to the poem. This also creates the feeling that we have come full circle. This technique is underpinned by the first stanza being set in the present time, the second being set in Coleridges own boyhood, and the final stanza bringing us back into the present. The repetition of babe in the third stanza serves to display the tenderness that Coleridge feels for his son. When Coleridge repeats sea, hill, and wood sea, and hill, and wood in the first stanza and by lakes and sandy shores and lakes and shores in the third stanza, we can truly appreciate how much he rejoices in the countryside, and how he is adamant that his son will experience the countryside, rather than being imprisoned by a city.
The imagery has also come full circle too, with the dying coals of the low-burnt fire to the silent icicles reflecting the moonlight. The final stanza with its colourful imagery of summer clothe the general earth with greenness, and the redbreast follow on from the powerful descriptions of God in the third stanza, to give us the impression that Coleridge is content with his thoughts that his child will have a better childhood in the countryside, and that he is at peace with this knowledge. The repetition of quietly and quiet also add to this peaceful imagery.
Baillies repetition takes on a different form in such that she regularly repeats thy, thou and thee which is quite formal and impersonal language. She uses colloquial abbreviations like whoever een and half-oped coupled with old fashioned words like varlet meaning rascal, and lay meaning a minstrels song or ballad. These techniques associate the poem with the time in which it was written. The final three stanzas of A Mother to her waking infant take on a melancholic feel when Baillie employs words like gloomy, surly, wilt, weary, weak, pity and frail. The clever repetition of wilt in the seventh stanza although meaning will, comes across as also meaning to droop or fade because of the words which surround it, which is very much in context of the pessimistic language.
Although the two poems are predominantly about the same subject matter of childhood, the reader experience is poles apart due to the difference in form, structure, language and imagery. Both poems look to the future, but Coleridge ends with hope and is upbeat, whereas Baillie ends with a sense of sadness. Coleridge draws the reader in with his conversational style and the insight into his thoughts and feelings, and in contrast Baillie could be describing any baby in her balladic form. Frost at Midnight thoroughly engages the reader with its rich visual imagery and intimate language, which make the poem a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The contrasting regular form of A Mother to her Waking Infant does not really give you an insight into Baillie as a poet. As a reader of Frost at Midnight we truly gain an understanding of Coleridge as a parent concerned for his sons future, and the night scene is successful in conjuring up memorable images.