Samuel Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge Biography:
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834), English poet, critic, and philosopher, who was a leader of the romantic movement. He was born in Ottery Saint Mary on October 21, 1772, the son of a clergyman. From 1791 until 1794 he attended Jesus College, University of Cambridge, except for a brief period when he was deeply in debt and entered the army. At the university, he absorbs political and theological ideas then considered radical, especially those of Unitarianism. He left Cambridge without a degree and joined the poet Robert Southey in a plan, soon abandoned, to found a utopian society in Pennsylvania. In 1795 the two friends married sisters; for Coleridge, the marriage proved unhappy. Southey departed for Portugal, but Coleridge remained in England to write and lecture. In 1796he he published Poems on Various Subjects.

The previous year Coleridge had met and begun what was to be a lifelong friendship with the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. The two men 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), such as the famous "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The years 1797 and 1798, during which the friends lived near Nether Stowey, in Somersetshire, were among the most fruitful of Coleridge's life. In addition to the "Ancient Mariner" he wrote the symbolic poem "Kubla Khan"; began the mystical narrative poem "Christabel"; and composed the quietly lyrical "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,""Frost at Midnight," and "The Nightingale," considered three of his best "conversational" poems.

In the fall of 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth left for a trip on the continent; Coleridge soon went his own way, spending much of his time in Germany. By this time Coleridge had become addicted to opium, a drug he used to ease the pain of rheumatism. In 1800, he returned to England with his family and settled in the Lake District of Cumberland. Between 1808 and 1819, he gave his famous series of lectures on literature and philosophy. In 1816, Coleridge, still addicted to opium and now is estranged from his family, wrote his major prose work, Biographia Literaria (1817), a series of autobiographical notes and dissertation on many subjects, including some brilliantly perceptive literary criticism. The sections in which Coleridge defines his views on the nature of poetry and the imagination and discusses the works of Wordsworth are especially notable. Other writings were published while he was in seclusion at the Gillman home, notably Sibylline Leaves (1817), Aids to Reflection (1825), and Church and State (1830). He died in London on July 25, 1834.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a leader to the romantic movement. He wrote poetry, essays, and criticism during the late 18the century and the early 19the century. As a poet, Coleridge crafted lyrical verse with dreamlike imagery and deep symbolism. Coleridge's criticism, most notably his "Biographia Litereria" (1817), had a profound influence upon 19the century and early 20th century schools of critical thought. In fact, it's a series of autobiographical notes and dissertations on many subjects, including some brilliantly perceptive literary criticism. The sections in which Coleridge defines his views on the nature of poetry and the imagination and discusses the works of Wordsworth are especially notable.

Coleridge was esteemed by some of his contemporaries and in generally recognized today as a lyrical poet and literary critic of the first rank. His poetic theme range from the supernatural to the domestic. His treatises, lectures, and compelling conversational powers made him perhaps the most influential English literary critic and philosopher of the 19th century.

Evaluation of his writings:
The romantic age in English literature was characterized by: the subordination of reason to the intuition and passion, the cult of nature much as the word is now understood and not as Pope understood it, the primacy of the individual will over social norms of behavior, the preference for the illusion of immediate experience as opposed to generalized and typical experience, and the interest in what is distant in time and place. The first important expression of romanticism in the Lyrical Ballads (1798) of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who were as young men aroused to creative activity by the French Revolution, but later became disillusioned with what followed it. Coleridge's main contribution "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", masterfully creates an illusion of rarity in relating strange, exotic, or obviously unreal events; this was his natural beat. Unlike Wordsworth, he wrote few poems and these during a very brief period. In his poems, especially "Kubla Khan", the beauties and horrors of the far distant in time or place are evoked in a style that is neither neoclassical nor simple in Wordsworth's fashion, but that instead recalls the splendor and extravagance of the Elizabethans. At the same time, Coleridge achieved an immediacy of sensation that suggests the natural although hidden affinity between him and Wordsworth, and their common rejection of the 18th century spirit in poetry.

The definition of a poem according to Coleridge:
"A poem is that species of composition, which is opposite to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth, and from all other species it is discriminated by proposing to itself such delight from the whole."

"A poem contains the same elements as a prose composition, the difference therefore, must consist in a different combination of them, in consequence of a different object being proposed. According to the difference of the object will be the difference of the combination."

A poem is a piece of writing, and it is distinguished by being contrasted to work's of science because it has pleasure as an object and not the truth. According to Coleridge, if one is not pleased, then it is not a poem. There is a delight in poetry, and it should come not from the parts but from the whole of the poem.

In the same book, he also says:
The poem is made up of parts, and he believes that it is not a condition for all the parts to be poetic. A poem may include some aspects that are not poetic. When it comes to a poem, the poetic parts should be able to sustain (carry) the non poetic parts in the same poem. He believes that the poem is made up of poetic and non poetic parts, and the delight which is the object of poetry comes from the whole of the poem. The non poetic parts are those of prose which are only connectors and delight can't be taken from these parts only.

What the poem is made of:
According to Coleridge, the elements found in a poem are not different from those found in a prose, so the difference is not in the elements but in the combination. Therefore, when we combine two things, the result could be a third thing (two elements interact to create a third element). In consequence, because it's a difference in combination, the combination is determined by the object. The different kind of combination is found according to a difference in the object. Thus, the poet does not insert the elements, but he can use the same elements found in prose in different combination which is deformed by the object. However, if the reader is not pleased, then it is not a poem. This pleasure must come from the poem as a whole. Poetic parts must be able to carry to non poetic parts in the same poem.