Differences and Similarities Between Coleridge and Wordsworth Concerning People's Relationship to Nature

Authors Avatar

Differences and Similarities Between Coleridge and Wordsworth Concerning People’s Relationship to Nature

      Although Wordsworth and Coleridge are both romantic poets, they describe nature in different ways. Coleridge underlines the tragic, supernatural and sublime aspect of nature, while Wordsworth uses anecdotes of everyday life and underlines the serene aspect of nature. In order to imply a connection between nature and the human mind, Wordsworth uses the technique of identification and comparison whereas Coleridge does the opposite in “The Ancient Mariner" and “Kubla Khan”. Both admire nature’s healing strength and hope that their children will grow up in a natural environment instead of growing up in cities.

       For Wordsworth nature seems to sympathise with the love and suffering of the persona. The landscape is seen as an interior presence rather than an external scene. His idea is that emotions are reflected in the tranquillity of nature. On the contrary, Coleridge says that poetry is clearly distinguished from nature. Reading the poems of both Wordsworth and Coleridge, one immediately notes a difference in the common surroundings presented by Wordsworth and the bizarre creations of Coleridge. Thus they develop their individual attitudes towards life.

        I will look at differences and similarities concerning people’s relationship to nature in poems  by Coleridge and Wordsworth such as: “The Ancient Mariner”, “Kubla Khan”, “The Nightingale,” “Lucy”, “Tintern Abbey,” “There was a boy”,  “ Old Beggar”, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and "Frost at Midnight".

      In  “The Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge demonstrates how violating nature and her subjects brings doom to the infracted. In this poem, the poet emphasises the vengeful, dark side of the land and the sea. He creates these images in order to demand careful respect for nature. Coleridge proposes reverence and respect for nature. The mariner killed the albatross that symbolised nature and nature takes its revenge and curses the ship. Therefore, Coleridge shows us the threatening aspect of nature  .He wants to show us that nature is very powerful. If we respect it, nature brings us benefits; if we violate it, it brings us doom.

 Because the ancient mariner killed the albatross, he has to bear the most intense personal suffering, loneliness, horror and fear. At first, Coleridge describes the world of nature as indifferent ; "The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out.(l.199)/ the stars were dim, and thick the night” (l.206). Then, the seascape becomes strange; there is no more wind, the sun turns red, the water becomes like oil. They lose their quality .The water, like a witch's oils, burnt green, and blue and white" (l, 24.27).

      The sun and sea are especially threatening. "The sun came up upon the left out of the sea came he!  And he shone bright, and on the right went down into the sea" (I, 80). The ship is therefore sailing south, into storms and ice. The mariner has no control over the circumstances. Even though the mariners sail to the South Pole and "conquer" the earth, it is the force of nature that dominates the ship. Then, nature makes him feel lonely. For seven days he travels into waste land alone. The soul of the mariner has been travelling for seven days into wasted land with the dead mariners around him .Then nature becomes increasingly threatening. The sun is compared to a face and its mouth entraps the ship ; “as if through a dungeon-grate he peered” (l.179). Coleridge has personified nature as a kind of monster who entraps  the ship. The idea of entrapment is raised by the use of the word “dungeon-grate”. He reached the highest feeling ; then nature calms down and becomes good again. At the beginning, nature is threatening, but at the end, watching the beautiful sea snake saves the mariner and nature is forgiving. Nature brings him rain to quench his thirst and the wind pushes the ship to the English coast. However, he is never completely saved and will have to spend the end of his days preaching the goodness of nature as propitiation.

Join now!

       He cannot be integrated properly into the community again. The mariner’s crime against nature can never be removed and he remains a marginal figure possessed by a power over which he has no control. The mariner has “glittering eyes  “(17) when he tells his tale showing the effect of nature; it can make you a fool if you do not respect it. Then, we have seen that the mariner has undergone a passage out of which he has a newfound respect for all things in nature.

       In Coleridge’s poems, the landscape is supernatural. ...

This is a preview of the whole essay