Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772. He was influenced by French revolutionary ideals and was an enthusiastic republican. With his friend Southey (another poet) tried to establish a utopian community, called Pantisocracy, in which every activity was done in common in order to create the best environment for everyone.
The rime of the ancient mariner is his masterpiece. It’s made of seven parts and is introduced by a summary. The atmosphere of the poem is charged of mystery, because of the supernatural and dream-like elements. The characters are more type than round characters, and they are universally human. This poem contains many features typical of ballads, like the combination of narration and dialogue, the four-line stanza and metaphor, alliteration.
The poem has many interpretation: it may be the description of a dream; the allegory of the life of the soul in the passage from crime to redemption; the description of the poetic journey of romanticism (the mariner is the poet, possessed by the guilt- origin of poetry).
Christabel is an unfinished poem settled during middle ages. Kubla Khan is another unfinished poem. After 1806 he began a career of criticism and journalist, and in 1834 he died. The importance of imagination: like Blake and Wordsworth, Coleridge stressed the role of imagination. He thought that there was two type of imagination:
- primary imagination: is connected with perception. Everyone has it and uses it unconsciously.
- secondary imagination: is voluntary and conscious. It’s used to use the data of reality and build new world.
The work of art is personal and unique, because the artist uses the secondary imagination.
Fancy is the mechanical ability of the poet using poetic devices like metaphors, alliteration and so on. For Coleridge nature isn’t a moral guide. His Christian faith didn't allowed him to identify nature with a pantheistic idea of divine. He saw nature in a platonic way, in which nature is a reflection of the perfect world of “ideas”, natural images have an abstract meaning. Coleridge uses an archaic language connected with old ballads.