Coleridge

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Critical Notes Coleridge
Coleridge had a tormented personality which reflected upon his creativity and intellectual potential. Coleridge was a philosopher, a poet, a journalist, an eclectic figure. His life was an unhappy one which only in maturity found some kind of peace. Coleridge felt frustrated without being able to identify single reason for his frustration. He found an escape, or a justification, in opium and this built up the legend about Coleridge as an important dreamer. Coleridge was aware of this process and from there stemmed a deep sense of guilt that obsessed him almost all his life. The Rime of ancient mariner express it all. Often, in his writing or letters, the words “wholeness” and “oneness” recur to indicate that, in his intellectual quest, Coleridge was trying to achieve the most ambitious aim possibly conceivable: a perfect unity. Imagination was the key word in Coleridge’s writings. He expounded it in Chapter 13 of Biographia Literaria. For him there exist two types of imagination: - the primary imagination is the faculty of the mind which, while perceiving, actively creates; - the secondary imagination is the recreative imagination typical of the poet and “dissipates in order to recreate”. It is that faculty which the poet needs to create his poetry. Coleridge contrasts it with the passivity of fancy which he considers a kind of memory.
Life Coleridge
Coleridge was born in Devon in 1772. He was a brilliant schoolboy but he left Cambridge without a degree. He was inspired by radical ideas. In 1797, he met Wordsworth with whom he began a friendship and a partnership which culminated in the joint publication pf Lyrical Ballads in 1798. Coleridge had been afflicted with severe rheumatism and he had become addicted to opium. No longer believing himself an inspired poet, he concentrated for newspaper and he became a public lecturer. He died in 1834.
Achievement Coleridge
Coleridge was a poet of the first generation. He had a spirit of wonder by introducing supernatural or fantastic events into poetry. He was also one of the greatest critics. He wrote The Rime of ancient mariner and Kubla Khan. These works are particularly significant because they typify an important way of creating the Romantic spirit of wonder. Wordsworth did this by expressing “the charm of novelty of everyday life”. Coleridge used supernatural described with sufficient “semblance of truth” to encourage a “suspension of disbelief”.
Suspension of disbelief
Coleridge believed the divine was hidden behind nature and in all beings. The story told by an ancient mariner of his voyage around the world and of how he shot a friendly bird: killing the bird is a crime against the divine in nature, which the mariner must expiate for the rest of his life. The realistic description of details provokes in the reader “that willing suspension of disbelief”, to treat supernatural happening and make them look real.
The rime of ancient mariner
The rime of ancient mariner was included in the lyrical ballads published in 1798. It is a narrative ballad in seven parts. The ballad focuses on the relationship between man, nature and God.
Biographia Literaria
Coleridge asserted that the Lyrical Ballads were to be made up of poems of two kinds. The first written by Coleridge, were poems in which the events were to be supernatural but entailing the same intensify of emotion as if the were real situation. The second kind of poems, written by Wordsworth, got inspiration from ordinary life bur were to be endowed with the charm of novelty. “The characters and incidents were to be such as will be found in every village and its vicinity”.
Emotions supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. IDEA → originated the plan
Lyrical ballads= it was agreed that my efforts should be directed to persons and character supernatural or romantic. Yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.
Wordsworth life
William Wordsworth was born in 1770 in the English Lake District, into a lower middle class family. He spent a big part of his childhood in close contact with nature and this influenced most of his poetry. After taking his degree he went in France where supported the French Revolution and embraced the democratic ideals. There he fell in love but when the French Revolution degenerated in violent results he was highly disappointed. So he leave France and his beloved Annette, also because he had no longer money. Wordsworth spent this period with his sister Dorothy and expounded his crisis in the tragedy called “The Borderers”. After this time he met Coleridge and finally was able to overcame his psychological pains and devoted totally himself to the poetry. Wordsworth, Dorothy and Coleridge became inseparable friends and the two poets wrote together a collection of poems called Lyrical Ballads. It must be considered that this work, which signalled the start of English Romanticism, was caused by lack of money. In 1800 Wordsworth published and added to it a Preface in which he exposed the theoric foundations of Romantic poetry. He also wrote The Prelude, the Poems in two volumes and the excursion. In his middle ages Wordsworth also consolidated a more conservative and naturalistic attitude far removed from the radical enthusiasm of his youth. In 1850 he died.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
The poem originates from a real experience the poet had. One day W. together with his sister Dorothy, was walking in the countryside when a mass of daffodils appeared in front of him. The composition is focused on poetic inspiration given by nature.
In this poem W. was in the typical romantic state of solitude when he came across a multitude of daffodils. They seemed so happy that even the waves could not compete with their dance. The poet was pleased but could do nothing except look at them intensely. Some time passed and one day the poet, at home, recollected the episode of daffodils in his solitude. At that point he felt a great emotion of pleasure and was in perfect communion with the flowers. As a result, he recorded his experience in the form of a poem. (la poesia nasce dall’emozione ricordata in tranquillità, il ruolo della memoria fa da filtro per l’immaginazione).
Critical notes Wordsworth
His name are associated with the word “nature”. From his early childhood in the English countryside, Wordsworth enjoyed close contact with the natural environment. His was an experience of natue, a profound interaction. W. conceived of his task as a poet as that of reproducing, or recollecting, his emotions for the reader. As W. formalized it in the Preface the best source was the everyday life of a rural environment with its simplicity and spontaneity, to be described in a language that would communicate as much as possible the genuine feeling, and thought he found in everyday conversation. Advocating the recourse to “a language really used by men” the elimination of artificial or elaborate expression. W. was opposed to the use of a poetic language when the latter did not record “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”. One may question the spontaneity of W.’s poetry in view of the fact that he conceived a poetic composition on “emotions recollected in tranquillity”. W. was certainly the one that did not discard reason. The gap between primal emotion and the resulting feeling.
W.’s ever present intention of instructing the reader. For him nature was not an entity in its own right but was the embodiment and expression of essential and everlasting truths about man, human nature and the world. In his quest for the “wisdom and spirit of the universe” he gives fundamental importance to childhood. The child is closer to its divine origin.

A traditional and literary ballad
The ballad is a traditional form of early folk poetry that was transmitted orally. It deals with the comedies and tragedies of life and it flourished throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Coleridge’s use of this form reflects the Romantics’ interest in the individual period. It also reflects the poet’s personal interest in the juxtaposition of ordinary and supernatural events reality and unreality. The features of the ballad, the Rime of ancient mariner is different because of its symbolical and literary qualities: - the voyage and the symbolical meanings of the landscape; - the use of personification and alliteration; - the length of the story; - the moral at the end; - the use of archaic terms as if it were a medieval text.
Preface to the lyrical ballads
In the preface W. Aimed at explaining the process of poetic composition and, by doing so, to answer the criticism which the Lyrical ballads had provoked.
The genesis of the Lyrical ballads brings about two considerations. The first one considered the work which signalled the start of English Romanticism had its origins in lack of money. The second consideration is that Wordsworth’s contribution to the collection was substantial not only because of the number of poems but also for the poetic theory sustaining the project. In 1800 Wordsworth published under his name a second, enlarged edition of the Lyrical ballads and added to it a Preface which has come to be known as the Manifesto of English romanticism. In the Preface Wordsworth discussed how he conceived the making of poetry without giving and explanation of Coleridge’s contributions, he would have even wished to eliminate the Rhyme of the ancient mariner. The lyrical ballads were received with mixed feelings: their _________ as to language and content brought about some perplexed responses.
In the prelude Wordsworth himself definite it as “the poem on the growth of my own mind”. Poems in two volumes. The excursion, an incomplete philosophical poem. In his middle ages Wordsworth also considered a more conservative and rationalistic attitude for removed from the radical enthusiasm of his youth. In 1850 he died.

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