Only at night do these energies display a sinister beauty.
After the death of his shipmates, alone and becalmed, devoid of a sense of movement or even of time passing, the mariner is in a hell created by the absence of any link with life. Eventually, however, a chance sight of water snakes flashing like golden fire in the darkness, answered by an outpouring of love from his heart, reinitiates the creative process: he is given a brief vision of the inner unity of the universe, in which all living things hymn their source in an interchange of harmonies.
Restored to his native land, he remains haunted by what he has experienced but is at least delivered from nightmare, able to see the ordinary processes of human life with a new sense of their wonder and mercifulness. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Written By: John Bernard Beer. The former, addressed to Sara Fricker, whom he married in Bristol on 4 October , looks forward to the conversational line which he would develop and share with Wordsworth.
Both poems are broadly communitarian in aspiration. Its contents were various, including reports from Parliament, foreign intelligence, and responses to current issues. This conjunction was where Coleridge staked his claim. Poetry as a vatic art in the service of a general social revival: the restless England of George III, reeling from the shock of American and French revolutions, was surely prepared to listen. The scientific and political culture which had emerged in the s was gaining force among the dissenters, Unitarians in particular, whom Coleridge cultivated in and around Bristol.
They were his constituency and his means of support. He spoke to them in sermons and lectures, through The Watchman and also, as he hoped, through his verse. His move with Sara to Clevedon, Somersetshire, along the Bristol Channel, in October was a change of air though not of social context.
From here he continued his attack on the king and his ministers, returning occasionally to Bristol to lecture or walking to Bridgwater to speak at the Unitarian chapel. In the exemplary setting of the new life he was undertaking, the claims of enlightenment thinking succumbed to faith.
For pantheism was associated with the progressive scientific culture for which the empirical world of nature was simply reality itself. A personal God had no empirical reality. Unitarians and various sorts of deists adhered to a divinity which was known through sensation: a Nature god of sorts. Yet his enduring commitments showed through. In his extensive correspondence of the period Coleridge proclaimed himself a Necessitarian for whom everything had a place in the divine scheme.
A traditional faith was confirmed through temptation. Community after the collapse of Pantisocracy meant a wife and family, impassioned friendships based on shared concerns, and the company of kindred spirits. The arduous and ultimately futile enterprise of The Watchman led him to seek a steady haven where he might work and write in sympathetic surroundings. Poole had proved a loyal friend and steady companion; his patronage was crucial to the success of the resettlement.
Wordsworth, whom Coleridge had met in Bristol some time before, came to visit with his sister, Dorothy , and they soon occupied a substantial house at Alfoxden, walking distance from Nether Stowey. The lives they were leading on the fringes of conventional society would become the subject of their work. The jealous Sara had spilled a pan of boiling milk on his foot, excluding him from the company of Dorothy and William Wordsworth, as well as Charles Lamb, on a jaunt in the surrounding spur of low hills— combes , in local parlance—the Quantocks.
From his confinement in the garden, he celebrates the pleasures of the natural world as seen from within this harmonious community of like-minded individuals. The detailed evocation of their itinerary marks the apogee of his response to landscape.
Literary Analysis Of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Sensation proves adequate to human need; Nature is a providential resource against isolation. This proved to be the most satisfying arrangement he would ever enjoy. It was the setting of his verse breakthrough, of the annus mirabilis in which most of his enduring poems were written. Here he built on the achievement of Clevedon, writing reflectively about his inner life in a social environment which excited and encouraged the questions he was asking.
Was natural beauty sufficient to our moral needs? And more speculatively, what was the meaning of nature conceived as an organ of divine will? How did this bear on our idea of society? These questions haunt the reflective idiom which he developed in the course of this residence of a year and a half at Nether Stowey, with storm clouds brewing on the horizon.
Speech replaces stale poetic convention from the start. The character of the poet lies at the center of the exercise. It provided the fresh air which their assumptions required.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
If Nature were to be their muse, and the source of their living values, it would have to be observed in all its sorts and conditions. At loose ends Coleridge found in Wordsworth a catalyst for his thinking about poetry. The poem was not liked even then. It might be verse, but it was not good poetry. The story of its genesis is one of the prodigies of English literature. In the course of a solitary walk in the combes near the Bristol Channel in the fall of , Coleridge took two grains of opium for the dysentery which had been bothering him for some time.
He retired to an old stone farmhouse some distance from Porlock, where he fell asleep while reading an old travel book, Purchase His Pilgrimage , by Samuel Purchase. He awoke hours later to record the extraordinary train of images which arose during his opiated stupor. If they are significant at all it is because they epitomize his reputation as the truant phantast of romantic legend.
He did much to encourage it, certainly, but he lived to regret what his friends made of him and to defend himself against charges of idleness and premature decay. The Coleridge phenomenon, as it might be called, has been recounted in every literary generation, usually with the emphasis on wonder rather than disappointment, though sometimes—among moralizing critics, never among poets—with a venom which recalls the disillusionment of his associates.
This became the germ of a momentous project in which Wordsworth acted as collaborator. He contributed some few lines of verse to the poem in addition. It underlines the collective enterprise involved in the inauguration of the new poetic idiom which would eventually be called Romantic. Creation of this kind is more than a matter of oracular power. It has much to do with rational inquiry and exchange. Further, the episode gives some idea of the working relations between Coleridge and Wordsworth at the moment when the scheme for Lyrical Ballads was being hatched.
Their constant companionship on walks, at Alfoxden and elsewhere, gave rise to extended discussion of poetry present and past. Both proved open to suggestion; both grew as poets through their conversations. It is the story of a project. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – A Poet, a Romanticist, a Critic
Lyrical Ballads was deliberately experimental, as the authors insisted from the start. The fact that it was a collaboration meant that both authors took responsibility for the design of the experiment. This was more than a volume of poems from various hands. Wordsworth frankly disliked it after the reviews came in, but Lamb led the way in appreciating its odd mix of romance and realism.
Whatever their liabilities of dramatic construction, the highly charged imagery of these poems has made a strong impression. Its influence rings clear in Shelley and Keats in the next generation, and in Tennyson , Browning , Rossetti , and Swinburne among their Victorian inheritors.
In the title of W. It stands out, a monument to the realized achievement of the experiment. What Wordsworth would make of the conversation poem is the story of the most distinguished poetic career of the period. Their achievement in the developing conversational line has seemed more momentous in retrospect than it did at the time. Yet the example of the conversation poems took where it mattered most, among the poets of the next generation and every generation since. Matthew Arnold and T. Eliot in England and Robert Frost in America elaborated variously on the conversational convention.
Wordsworth made the conversation poem the vehicle of his celebration of enlightenment values: of nature as spiritual home, of man as the measure of things. The conviction of a benevolent nature is compromised by mounting fears. In the earlier poems of the kind these are indicated only indirectly. Part of this feeling must have come from the growing hostility of the community in which he was living.
Fear of a French invasion was widespread, and the outsiders were suspected of democratic sympathies, even of collusion with the national enemy. For it exposes the deep fears behind the passion for Nature conceived in this way, as an intentional agent and life companion.
It is an uncertain performance, rambling and disjointed, yet interesting as a portrait of political conviction under pressure. Despite the difficulties, this was a time of rare promise for the young writer.
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While Wordsworth would carry on with the experiment for some ten years after that spring in the Quantocks, his companion in the art was all but finished with it. Reasons for the divergence are bound to be conjectures after the fact, but two at least remain worth considering. There was room for only one strong voice of this kind.
Coleridge was drawn to other roles in any case, and to other causes.