Wordsworth is using the idea of a fountain to show the strength of his love — 'a fountain at my fond heart's door / Whose only business was to flow'; he considers his love for his friend as 'flowing' and constant and, more than that, it is natural — a fountain's nature is to flow, after all. The gush of water from the fountain beautifies and enlivens the atmosphere; likewise, the fountain of love in his heart beautifies and cheers up his entire personality, hence an example of juxtaposition.
It is important to note that fountains initially have had a practical purpose, which over time have acquired a more symbolic significance. In a time of poor sanitation and primitive plumbing, they would have been very expensive to build. Fountains had begun as a simple means of supplying water to the public, but later on had come to symbolize the magnanimity and thoughtfulness of the rulers and lords who cared enough to supply the population with water, at the same time displaying power and wealth. Historically fountains were a reflection of wealth. Thus, the fountain is also a lifeline for the people, as it gives them access to an extremely important element, water. Therefore, we can perceive the fountain image as suggesting that the friendship has enriched the narrator's life. It is in the first stanza that the persona introduces the readers to the image of this fountain providing a visual imagery.
The reference to the time 'nor long ago' and the past tense used 'was to flow...flow it did' suggest a past experience or nostalgia using the technique of flashback. There are two central images used throughout the poem, the first is that of the fountain which appears to represent the beloved; and the second is water, which can be seen as the symbol of the beloved's love for the persona and is an extended metaphor.
Coleridge has never responded to Wordsworth's love as he has expected 'not taking heed'. The word 'bounty' demonstrates the deep powerful bond between them, but now it has become less demonstrative. The unrequited, unreciprocated love 'my need' leads the narrator to a sort of disappointment.
In the second stanza, Wordsworth explores into the past bygone days. He states that 'what happy moments did I count! / Blest was I then all bliss above!', thus showing that the time he and the unspoken friend or lover has spent together are truly some of the happiest moments of his life. We do not know precisely what has happened between the poet and the poet's subject, but it seems as though their parting is slightly one-sided. It shows that there have been more than a few happy moments that live deeply within his heart, and then 'blest was I then all bliss above!' — where he gives his happiness an almost divine quality. The second stanza is a recollection, realization, reflection, and comparison of the speaker's happiness in his friendship.
'Now for that consecrated fount' follows the same image of the fountain and the sacred quality of the love. Now that the divinity is ruined, there is no more to say, nothing more to speak about, because there is no love left. There is a religious imagery. The words 'blest' and 'consecrated' help convey the idea that the friend's love has been a source of great spiritual comfort to the narrator. Moreover, the plosive alliteration in 'bless' and 'bliss' capture the narrator's passionate feelings.
The rule of three 'murmuring, sparkling, living love' amplifies the relationship. It refers to the different stages of relationship. The poet elevates his relationship to a sacred level. The alliteration in 'living love' underlines that the poet is hopeful of his lost memories of love and friendship. The interrogatives 'what have I? shall I dare to tell' reveal the truth of his changed love. We can sense a tone of disappointment and the poet's inhibition to face the reality of altered love.
The use of contrasting metaphors and change in images 'fountain' and 'well' shows the changed nature of love. There is a stark contrast to the highly accessible fountain representing the relationship of the former days; and the 'well' which is deep and never dry but no longer within the reach directing at the present state. Wordsworth has a 'well' of feelings for his friend which he cannot share. The water in the 'well' remains stagnant, likewise is the relationship devoid of 'passion'. The hedge used in 'may be deep' hints at the uncertainty of the poet regarding Coleridge's love for him. It also implies even this love is left up to chance, and to the person whose emotions are so sharply contained and so easily broken, deep or not, this doesn't matter. Personification is used in 'waters sleep'; here 'waters' metaphorically represent love and friendship.
The love that is there is now gone 'in silence and in obscurity'. This arouses sympathy. The sibilance in 'waters sleep in silence and obscurity' highlights the stillness between them, which is in stark contest to the 'happy moments' they share. Wordsworth employs punctuation to present the narrator's feelings towards his friend. The poet says 'a well of love — it may be deep —I trust it is — and never dry'. The dashes and caesura here powerfully convey the distress and anxiety the narrator feels as he contemplates a life without this intense relationship and at the deterioration of the friendship.
In the second bit, he reiterates the first few lines of A Complaint, thereby making it cyclical, begins with 'poor' and ends likewise, a process that, while not never-ending, can be said to repeat itself. Dishearteningly, it seems as though he's saying that love is fickle, and that people fall in and out of it with such ease that the sacredness of it is lost rather quickly. This could be written about both filial and romantic love. Regular rhyme scheme ABABCC captures the idea of the narrator's grief being inescapable; an idea supported by the poem's cyclic structure.
Over the three stanzas and with a fixed rhyme scheme, the poem relates the narrator's regret over the chilling of a friendship or relationship. It is inescapable. Once there has been a powerful bond between them; now his friend is less demonstrative in showing his affection. This deeply saddens the narrator. The poem echoes Wordsworth's own concerns regarding his strained relationship with Coleridge. This strain has been due to Coleridge's altered character on returning from abroad after struggles from addiction. This is an autobiographical poem.