Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a poet, critic and philosopher.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772, he was an avid reader and a bright student. In 1791 he went to Cambridge, but he suddenly interrupted his education.
Encounter with Wordsworth
In 1795 Coleridge met William Wordsworth, and they became really friends, because they shared the same political and literary ideas. The result of their collaboration were the Lyrical Ballads (1798), which opened with one of the four poems that Coleridge had contributed: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In the Lyrical Ballads they explained what the romantic poetry is.
He also began, but never completed, three other ballads, and composed his celebrated opium-vision Kubla Khan.
He is considered, with William Wordsworth, the founder of English romanticism.
In 1800 he came back in England, and with his friend Wordsworth he went to live in the Lake District.
In the same time, he became opium dependent, which was the only relief he could find from the pain caused by his bad health.
The end of the friendship
In 1810 he broke his friendship with Wordsworth. His opium dependence made him character’s bounce, as deep as he couldn’t work.
To make himself free from the opium, Coleridge went to a psychiatric hospital in London. He died in 1834.
Contribution from each writers:
• Wordsworth: he wrote poems taking inspiration from simple things of every day life.
• Coleridge: he saw mysterious and fantastic past, projecting the reader in the fantastic world of the “imagination”.
• Wordsworth: he wanted to amuse the reader with a simple and natural writing.
• Coleridge: he addressed to the readers, asking them not to judge what they read, as to let to be transported by the writer in the mysterious and magic world of “supernatural”.
He started to write this poem in 1798 and published it unfinished in 1816. He was apparently inspired by a dream in an opium-induced sleep. The poem describes an earthly paradise in the Orient and is memorable for its powerful visionary images. The story takes place in Orient, rich of ancient magic rituals. The expressive force of Coleridge is expressed in the strong descriptive imagination and in the musical rhythm of the poem.
Its genesis was described by Coleridge himself in a short introduction prefacing the poem. It may be summarized as follows: being in ill health and having fetired to a lonely farm house, one day, in the summer of 1797, he happened to have been prescribed some opium. From its effects he fell asleep in his chair while reading a passage in a book of travels called Purchas, his Pilgrimage on Kublai Khan and the wonderful palace he commanded to be built. He slept for about three hours, during which time he was aware of having written more or less three hundred lines. When he awoke, he immediately set to work to write down these lines, but was unfortunately interrupted by a visitor. When he resumed his work, he was no longer able to complete the poem, although he ‘’still retained some vague and dim recollection of the vision’’.
The poem can be divided into two parts: the first one describes the palace and the ground around it, while the second one portraits about an Abyssinian girl playing a dulcimer. The result is that the first lines convey to an impression of freshness and pleasure, as well as those of the last part, while the central lines, convey a sense of anguish and ambiguity. The last verses of the first part are anyway devoted to resume the description of the sacred river, and of the pleasure-dome, which is now presented through three different devices: the fusion of visual images, the mingling of sound and a striking contrast between he sunny dome and the caves of ice.
In the second the prospective suddenly changes from the description in third person to one in first person: it is now the poet himself who’s telling his experience, and who announces that only the Abyssinian damsel’s music, opposed to the other woman who is wailing for her demon-lover, may transform him into an enchanter endowed with magic powers.