He was born at Ottery St. Mary, Devon, then he settled with Wordsworths in the Lake District, where begins his and Wordsworth’s intellectual collaboration, that produces the Lyrical Ballads. His demoniac poem (share the presence of the supernatural) are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan and Christabel (centered on a beautiful girl who is really a vampire, and lives in a gothic castle.
The rime of the ancient mariner is an example of joint poetic work , it is a ballad, its story comes from a dream of Coleridge’s friend. It is a mixture of magic a supernatural elements (Gothic tradition), exotic and fantastic elements and traveling (Travel tradition) and traditional ballad. It’s divided in seven parts. It’s a mix between real and supernatural, real because there’re realistic details on the position of the sun, sea, and so on. Supernatural because of the figure of the ancient mariner, with his glittering, hypnotic eye, has supernatural power, he’s compelled by a mysterious force to tell his story again and again, the albatross, a sacred bird in many religion has supernatural powers, there’re strange creatures, sea monster, spirits..
IT IS AN ANCIENT MARINER
The first part of the ballad introduces the story, there’s an ancient mariner who stops one of three guests invited to a wedding party, to tell him his story: how his ship has passed the Equator, and pushed by the storm towards the South Pole and how he returns home. The guest is initially annoyed, but then the mariner’s glittering eye hypnotize him, so when the guest is forced to listen him the mariner starts his story: when the ship passes the equator, there’s favorable wind, this pushed it to the south pole, where there is ice all around. Suddenly from the fog appears an albatross, a white bird, welcomed by the crew, because it’s a good sign, a sign of good luck, but the ancient mariner shoots it, without a reason. The interpretations of the rime of the ancient mariner are two: A religious interpretations, where the killing of albatross is a sign against nature and God, so the mariner has to go in a purgatorial fire to reach salvation. An artistic interpretation, where the mariner is an artist who needs leave his world to search truth and knowledge, now he is saved by the power of imagination.
Ode to the west wind is read as a prophecy of political and social revolution, because the poet wants change his society, he lives under the Age of terror, he make the wind a symbol of change, of freedom, in fact his prophetic message in the last stanza is positive, he believes the freedom from the society will came soon.
In the first stanza the wind influences the Earth, in the second stanza the Sky, in the third stanza the Sea, Ocean, it misses the fire, but in the text there are words recollected to the fire, in fact he says “scatter my words as from an “unextinguished hearth” like “ashes and sparks”
This poem contain features of romanticism because there’s the theme of:
Nature as a vital force (panteism) the wind is considered a living force in fact it’s destroyer, preserver, uncontrollable.
Role of the poet (to awake people’s feelings, he’s a prophet)
Role of imagination (this poem is full of vivid image, the leaves driven like ghosts by an enchanter, clouds compared to maenad’s hair, dome of a sepulcher)
Archaic language: thou. Thy, thee, It’s the manifestation of the interest in the past.
Anguish: there are images of death.