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Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834), English poet, critic, and philosopher, who was a leader of the Romantic movement.

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Introduction

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834), English poet, critic, and philosopher, who was a leader of the Romantic movement. I II DEVELOPMENT Coleridge was born in Ottery St Mary, Devon, on October 21, 1772, the son of a vicar. From 1791 until 1794 he studied classics at Jesus College, Cambridge University, and became interested in French revolutionary politics. His heavy drinking and debauchery incurred massive debts which he attempted to clear by entering the army for a brief period. Eventually, his brother paid for him to be discharged on a plea of insanity. At university he absorbed political and theological ideas then considered radical, especially those of Unitarianism. He left Cambridge without a degree and joined his university friend, the poet Robert Southey in a plan, soon abandoned, to found a Utopian society in Pennsylvania. Based on the ideas of William Godwin, this new society was dubbed "Pantisocracy". In 1795 the two friends married sisters, Sara and Edith Fricker. Not only did Coleridge's marriage to Sara proved extremely unhappy, but he also became estranged from Southey, who departed for Portugal that same year. Coleridge remained in England to write and lecture, editing a radical Christian journal, The Watchman, from his new home in Clevedon. In 1796 he published Poems on Various Subjects, which included "The Eolian Harp" and his "Monody on the Death of Chatterton". In June 1797 Coleridge met and began what was to be a lifelong friendship with the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. The years 1797 and 1798, during which the friends lived near Nether Stowey, in Somerset, were among the most fruitful of Coleridge's life. The two men anonymously published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads (1798), that became a landmark in English poetry; it contained the first great works of the Romantic school (see Romanticism (literature)). The 1800 edition of the book contained a preface by Wordsworth, written at Coleridge's request. ...read more.

Middle

The years 1797 and 1798, during which the friends lived near Nether Stowey, in Somerset, were among the most fruitful of Coleridge's life. The two men anonymously published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads (1798), that became a landmark in English poetry; it contained the first great works of the Romantic school (see Romanticism (literature)). The 1800 edition of the book contained a preface by Wordsworth, written at Coleridge's request. This piece offered an explanation of the thinking behind the collection, arguing that "the real language of men" should be part of poetic diction. The relationship between the imagination of the poet and the beauty of the natural world was also a central concern. III CONVERSATIONAL POEMS Critical interest in Coleridge has focused on the poems he wrote in the 1790s. One of the major achievements of this period was his development of the Conversational or Conversation poem. Deeply personal, these works are emotional meditations upon experiences from everyday life. "This Lime Tree Bower My Prison" (1797) relates the poet's frustration when injury prevents him from taking a walk with friends. Through the faculty of his imagination, he participates in their pleasure, and realizes that the tree bower under which he is convalescing also possesses a profound beauty, arguing that: Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure; No plot so narrow, be but Nature there, No waste so vacant, but may well employ Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart Awake to Love and Beauty! "The Nightingale" (1798) moves from the poet's admission that the bird's conventional associations with melancholy are a human construct, but then goes on to relate the intense experience of observing his son's delight in birdsong and moonlight. "Frost at Midnight" (1798), perhaps Coleridge's most powerful work in this style, is quietly meditative in tone. This gentle quality is provided by the poem's lack of artificial, self-conscious devices. ...read more.

Conclusion

He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity that blends and (as it were) fuses, each into each, by that synthetic and magical power to which we have exclusively appropriated the name of imagination. Other writings were published while he was in seclusion at the Gillman home, notably Sibylline Leaves (1817), Aids to Reflection (1825), and On the Constitution of Church and State (1830). He died in London on July 25, 1834. Despite the fact that his best-known works were written by 1800, and that several of these remain unfinished, Coleridge's status as a major poet has remained secure. The dramatic end to his period of poetic production, and his habit of leaving work incomplete have become legendary, and he even turned these problems into the subject of a poem, "Dejection: An Ode" (1802), an agonizing expression of his desire for poetic inspiration. oleridge's greatest poetic achievements came in the 1790s during his literary partnership with Wordsworth. Apart from the famous supernatural poems, such as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan", he developed a style known as "Conversation Poems"-lonely, meditative blank verse in which the scene viewed and the reflections of the mind fuse. The language is free of artifice and the verse runs fluidly across the line structure, bringing the voice of the poem closer to that of natural speech. In "Frost at Midnight" the narrator thinks back to an unhappy city upbringing away from the country town of his birth, and vows to raise his own child, over whom he is watching, in a spiritually rich natural environment.5 1"Coleridge, Samuel Taylor," Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2000. (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 2"Coleridge, Samuel Taylor," Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2000. (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 3"Coleridge, Samuel Taylor," Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2000. (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 4"Romanticism (literature)," Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2000. (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 5""Frost at Midnight"," Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2000. (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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