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Writings of Samuel Tailor Coleridge (Essay Sample)


Writings of Samuel Tailor Coleridge

Writings of Samuel Tailor Coleridge
Coleridge was perhaps the most stimulating and multitalented mind of his generation.
He was a writer, critic, poet, a journalist, lecturer, philosopher and a theologian (Stanger, 1). He was born in Devonshire, England on 21 October 1772. At ten, having lost his father, he was sent to London for schooling, by the help of the missionaries. He attended Cambridge University although he did not graduate at the University.
He is best known for Christabel and the Rime of the Ancient Manner. The latter is known to have influenced the English language in metaphors and imagery. It was the place where usch metaphors as the albatross around the neck and not a drop of drink were firt used, and it is credited for having spread their use among literature writers and theatre. The former, Christabel is credited for its creative use of imagery in a Gothic sense and its unique musical rhythm and use of language. Others such as Kubla khan have an additional and slightly altered romantic aaura which made them widely known and used. Their imaginative phrasing is also unique to Coleridge's works and can be seen in most of his later works.
Through his writings Coleridge largely contributed to romanticism, more so through his poems. His work usually adored nature, depicted strong spontaneity and freedom in expression of feelings and hardly conformed to the literary conservatism of his days. Romanticism may be seen in a number of his poems.
Romanticism in Coleridge's Writings
Romanticism was a movement or an era in literature, music and art in the late eighteenth and first half of nineteenth century that strongly advocated for return to nature, strong expression of feelings and imagination in preference to reason, intellectual ideas and order (Richardson, 2). Among the literary scholars, romanticism meant being anti-enlightenment. Whereas enlightenment had a static vision of the world and emphasized on conservatism, uniformity of ideas and rationality; romanticism viewed the world as dynamic and emphasized on revolution, diversity of ideas and feelings or sentiments (Richardson, 2). There was an advocacy to make writings that pay tributes to nature.
His adoration of nature and attention to feelings and emotions are very evident in his early poetry; such as “Aeolian Harp,” where he explores the theme of incompleteness and isolation. Throughout his career in poetry, Coleridge kept alluding to some wind blowing which, which comes with change, in company with the unknown. In “Aeolian Harp” he describes a fine experience joy in its pure form. A harp gets played by the wind and the strength of the wind determines the loudness of the harp: “And now, its strings / Boldlier swept, the long sequacious notes / Over delicious surges sink and rise…” (Tiefert 19-20; Scheuerle 599 ) . The term “Boldlier,” (from bold) used in the poem signify something so imaginative hence beyond the reach of ordinary thought. The poet uses a very powerful imagery and soothing sound in describing the strength of nature. The wind steadily drives air with force, causing long soothing sound from the harp.
He also believed that, mankind is dictated and shaped by external forces and influence, including nature and the supernatural. In a letter to “Thomas Poole,” he writes “The black clouds, which hide the Sun from my view, are they not big with fertility? And will they not drop it on me?” (Griggs 228). Once again, external influences steer Coleridge's mind. The image “black clouds” used here represents the despair that he is headed for. (Coleridge, 57).
In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the persona admits having killed an albatross and thus awaits atonement: “And I had done a hellish thing/and it would work ‘I woe:/For all averred, I had killed the bird/that made the breeze to blow.” (Parini 298) The “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” brings forth a supernatural aspect through the power of nature. The albatross in this poem reflects despair and also a symbol of nature's omnipresent power. According to Buchan, The mariner is “the passive victim of forces more active than he and the observer of events that determine his fate without his participation” (92). Once again, strong emotion is evoked with the isolation of mariner., The Mariner gets ostracized by the crewmen , making him become the object of supernatural occurrences ( Kirchhoff 6). He employs strong imagery : “And now there came both mist and snow/ And it grew wondrous cold/And ice, mast high, came floating by/As green as emerald”(Parini 290)
His Inspiration
While at Cambridge, he grew to be a proponent of William Frend, who held very radical and unilateral views. Inspiration by Frend's Unitarian beliefs was a vital source of Coleridge's controversial nature (Goodson, 96). The poet developed a close relationship with Wordsworth, another poet, and his sister Dorothy in 1795. This association turned out to be very inspiring, as the two poets shared their poetic talents and refined one another's work and carried out joint publications, producing the Lyrical Ballads in 1798 (Goodson, 96).
He also developed interest in the works and writings of Emanuel Kant, while he studied Philosophy at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Kant's works were generally revolutionary in nature, and is thought to have inspired Coleridge in being a non-conservative. Coleridge had married Edith Fricker, in the year 1795, although he never really loved her. Therefore, when he entered into a love relationship with Sara Hutchinson in 1799, he was inspired to write love poems in her honor as he could not marry her then. This was the foundation of his work “Dejection: An Ode” in 1802 (Techman 982).
His Major Works, His Influence and Inspiration to Other Writers
Most of his celebrated works were done after 1975 after meeting and befriending William Wordsworth, who influenced his verse. In 1795 he wrote his famous "conversation poems," such as "This LimeTree Bower My Prison “, “The Pains of Sleep,” and” The Eolian Harp" (Goodson 96). In 1997, he published ‘The Watchman' which was a liberal political publication. In 1978, he collaborated with Wordsworth to produce a joint poetry volume named Lyrical Ballads. This volume contained poems Coleridge's most famous poems: ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', “Kubla Khan” and the first part of ‘Christabel' (Goodson 97).Alongside his poetry, Coleridge is also known for his influential literary criticism. The most famous of these is “Biographia Literaria” which was published in 1857 and presented collections his critique, opinions and thoughts on various literary issues (Richardson 4).
Coleridge's meditative shorter, "conversation poems," turned out to be very influential to the development of poetry. These are poems whereby the persona addresses the listener within the poem, but the addressee remains passive. Wordsworth adopted the model of Coleridge's conversation poems to write more of his conversational poem, which became very popular and ground for modern standard poetry (Goodson 120). Therefore, through Wordsworth, Coleridge provided a new approach to poetry in modern English.
His poems in the Lyrical Ballads, such as ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner' , ‘Kubla Khan' along with Wordsworth's poem 'Tintern Abbey' used the ordinary language as opposed to the then prevalent use of technical language. He therefore, along with Wordsworth, introduced a turn in the manner and styles of writing poetry. The fee verse has now become a common feature...
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