Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Washington Allston retouched

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1830, by Washington Allston (1779-1843), 1814. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Born October 21 1772(1772-Template:MONTHNUMBER-21)
Ottery St. Mary, Devon, England
Died July 25 1834(1834-Template:MONTHNUMBER-25) (aged 61)
Highgate, England
Occupation Poet, critic, philosopher
Literary movement Romanticism
Notable work(s) "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", "Kubla Khan"
Spouse(s) Sarah Fricker
Children Sara Coleridge, Berkeley Coleridge, Derwent Coleridge, Hartley Coleridge

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge (21 October 1772 - 25 July 1834) was an English poet, literary critic, and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets.



Coleridge, son of the vicar and schoolmaster of Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, was born there in 1772, the youngest of 13 children. He was at Christ's Hospital from 1782 to 1790, and had Charles Lamb for a schoolfellow, and the famous scholar and disciplinarian, James Boyer, for his master. He proceeded to Cambridge, in 1791, where he read much, but desultorily, and got into debt. The troubles arising thence and also, apparently, a disappointment in love, led to his going to London and enlisting in the 15th Dragoons under the name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbacke. He could not, however, be taught to ride, and through some Latin lines written by him on a stable door, his release was accomplished, his brothers buying him off. After this escapade he returned (1794) to Cambridge. He had by this time imbibed extreme democratic or, as he termed them, pantisocratic principles, and on leaving Cambridge in the same year he visited Oxford where he made the acquaintance of Southey, and discussed with him a project of founding a "pantisocracy" on the banks of the Susquehanna, a scheme which speedily fell through, owing initally to want of funds, and next to the circumstance of the 2 projectors falling in love simultaneously with 2 sisters, Sarah and Edith Fricker, of whom the former became, in 1795, the wife of Coleridge, and the latter of Southey. Coleridge spent another term at Cambridge, and there in September 1794 his earliest work, The Fall of Robespierre, a drama, to which Southey contributed 2 acts, was publihed. After his marriage Coleridge settled at Clevedon, and thereafter at Nether Stowey, Somerset, where his neighbor was Wordsworth , with whom he formed an intimate association. About 1796 he fell into the fatal habit of taking laudanum, with disastrous effects upon his character and powers of will. In the same year Poems on Various Subjects appeared, and a little later Ode to the Departing Year. While at Nether Stowey he was practically supported by Thomas Poole, a tanner, with whom he had formed a friendship. Here he wrote "The Ancient Mariner," the 1st part of Christabel and "Kubla Khan," and here he joined with Wordsworth in producing the Lyrical Ballads. He soon afterwards went to Germany, where he remained for over a year, an experience which profoundly influenced the future development of his intellect. On his return he made excursions with Southey and Wordsworth, and at the end of 1799 went to London, where he wrote and reported for the Morning Post. His great translation of Schiller's Wallenstein appeared in 1800. In the same year he migrated to Greta Hall, near Keswick, where he wrote the 2nd part of Christabel. Soon after this his health gave way, and he suffered much; and, whether as the cause or the consequence of this, he had become a slave to opium. In 1804 he went to Malta in search of health, and there befriended the governor, Sir Alexander Ball, who appointed him his secretary, in which position he showed remarkable capacity for affairs. Resigning this occupation, of which he had become tired, he traveled in Italy, and in the beginning of 1806 reached Rome, where he enjoyed the friendship of Tieck, Humboldt, and Bunsen. He returned to England in the end of 1806, and in 1808 delivered a course of lectures on Shakespeare at the Royal Institution; and thereafter (1809), leaving his family at Keswick, he went to live with Wordsworth at Grasmere. Here he started The Friend, a philosophical and theological periodical, which lasted for 9 months. That part of his annuity contributed by T. Wedgwood had been confirmed to him by will in 1805, and this he allowed to his wife, but in 1811 the remaining half was stopped. He delivered a 2nd course of lectures in London, and in 1813 his drama, Remorse, was acted at Drury Lane with success. Leaving his family dependent upon Southey, he lived with various friends, first, from 1816 to 1819, with John Morgan at Calne. While there he published Christabel and "Kubla Khan" in 1816, and in 1817 Biographia Literaria, Sybilline Leaves, and an autobiography. In 1818 he appeared for the last time as a lecturer. He found in 1819 a final resting-place in the household of James Gillman, a surgeon, at Highgate. His life thenceforth was a splendid wreck. His nervous system was shattered, and he was a constant sufferer. Yet these last years were, in some respects, his best. He maintained a struggle against opium which lasted with his life, and though he ceased to write much, he became the revered center of a group of disciples, including such men as Sterling, Maurice, and Hare, and thus indirectly continued and increased his influence in the philosophic and theological thought of his time. He returned to Trinitarianism, and a singular and childlike humility became one of his most marked characteristics. His last publications were Aids to Reflection (1825) and The Constitution of Church and State. After his death there were published, among other works, Table Talk (1835), Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit (1840), Letters and Anima Poetæ (1895).[1]

Endowed with an intellect of the first order, and an imagination at once delicate and splendid, C., from a weakness of moral constitution, and the lamentable habit already referred to, fell far short of the performance which he had planned, and which included various epic poems, and a complete system of philosophy, in which all knowledge was to be co-ordinated. He has, however, left enough poetry of such excellence as to place him in the top rank of English poets, and enough philosophic, critical, and theological matter to constitute him one of the principal intellectually formative forces of his time. His knowledge of philosophy, science, theology, and literature was alike wide and deep, and his powers of conversation, or rather monologue, were almost unique. A description of him in later life tells of "the clerical-looking dress, the thick, waving, silver hair, the youthful coloured cheek, the indefinable mouth and lips, the quick, yet steady and penetrating greenish-grey eye, the slow and continuous enunciation, and the everlasting music of his tones."[2]


Main article: Early life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge was born on 21 October 1772 in the country town of Ottery St Mary, Devon, England.[3] His father, Rev. John Coleridge (1718–1781), was a well-respected vicar of the parish and headmaster of Henry VIII's Free Grammar School at Ottery. He had three children by his first wife. Samuel was the youngest of ten by Reverend Coleridge's second wife, Anne Bowden (1726–1809).[4]Coleridge suggests that he "took no pleasure in boyish sports" but instead read "incessantly" and played by himself.[5]

After John Coleridge died in 1781, the then 8-year-old Samuel was sent to Christ's Hospital, a charity school founded in the 16th century in Greyfriars, London, where he remained throughout his childhood, studying and writing poetry. At that school Coleridge became friends with Charles Lamb, a schoolmate, and studied the works of Virgil and William Lisle Bowles.[6]

Throughout his life, Coleridge idealized his father as pious and innocent, while his relationship with his mother was more problematic.(Citation needed) His childhood was characterized by attention seeking, which has been linked to his dependent personality as an adult.(Citation needed) He was rarely allowed to return home during the school term, and this distance from his family at such a turbulent time proved emotionally damaging.(Citation needed) He later wrote of his loneliness at school in the poem Frost at Midnight: "With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt / Of my sweet birthplace."

From 1791 until 1794, Coleridge attended Jesus College, Cambridge.[7] In 1792, he won the Browne Gold Medal for an ode that he wrote on the slave trade.[8] In December 1793, he left the college and enlisted in the Royal Dragoons using the false name "Silas Tomkyn Comberbache",[9] perhaps because of debt or because the girl that he loved, Mary Evans, had rejected him. Afterwards, he was rumored to have had a bout with severe depression.(Citation needed) His brothers arranged for his discharge a few months later under the reason of "insanity" and he was readmitted to Jesus College, though he would never receive a degree from Cambridge.

Pantisocracy and marriageEdit

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At the university, he was introduced to political and theological ideas then considered radical, including those of poet Robert Southey. Coleridge joined Southey in a plan, soon abandoned, to found a utopian commune-like society, called Pantisocracy, in the wilderness of Pennsylvania. In 1795, the 2 friends married sisters Sarah and Edith Fricker, in St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol,[10] but Coleridge's marriage proved unhappy. He grew to detest his wife, whom he only married because of social constraints. He eventually separated from her.

Coleridge made plans to establish a journal, The Watchman, which would print every 8 days in order to avoid a weekly newspaper tax.[11] The inaugural isue of the short-lived journal was published in March 1796; it ceased publication by May of that year.[12]

The years during which he lived in what is now known as Coleridge Cottage, in Nether Stowey, Somerset, were among the most fruitful of Coleridge's life. In 1795, Coleridge met poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. (Wordsworth, having visited him and being enchanted by the surroundings, rented Alfoxton Park, a little over 3 miles [5 km] away.) Besides the Rime of The Ancient Mariner, Coleridge composed the symbolic poem Kubla Khan, written (he himself claimed) as a result of an opium dream, in "a kind of a reverie"; and the 1st part of the narrative poem Christabel. The writing of Kubla Khan, written about the Asian emperor Kublai Khan, was said to have been interrupted by the arrival of a "Person from Porlock" -- an event that has been embellished upon in such varied contexts as science fiction and Nabokov's Lolita. During this period, Coleridge also produced his much-praised "conversation" poems This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight, and The Nightingale.

In 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, which proved to be the starting point for the English romantic movement. Wordsworth may have contributed more poems, but the real star of the collection was Coleridge's version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It was the longest work and drew more praise and attention than anything else in the volume. In the spring Coleridge temporarily took over for Rev. Joshua Toulmin at Taunton's Mary Street Unitarian Chapel[13] while Rev. Toulmin grieved over the drowning death of his daughter Jane. Poetically commenting on Toulmin's strength, Coleridge wrote in a 1798 letter to John Prior Estlin, "I walked into Taunton (eleven miles) and back again, and performed the divine services for Dr. Toulmin. I suppose you must have heard that his daughter, (Jane, on 15 April 1798) in a melancholy derangement, suffered herself to be swallowed up by the tide on the sea-coast between Sidmouth and Bere (sic. Beer). These events cut cruelly into the hearts of old men: but the good Dr. Toulmin bears it like the true practical Christian, – there is indeed a tear in his eye, but that eye is lifted up to the Heavenly Father.[14]

In the autumn of 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth left for a stay in Germany; Coleridge soon went his own way and spent much of his time in university towns. During this period, he became interested in German philosophy, especially the transcendental idealism and critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and in the literary criticism of 18th-century dramatist Gotthold Lessing. Coleridge studied German and, after his return to England, translated the dramatic trilogy Wallenstein by the German Classical poet Friedrich Schiller into English. He continued to pioneer these ideas through his own critical writings for the rest of his life (sometimes without attribution), although they were unfamiliar and difficult for a culture dominated by empiricism.

In 1799, Coleridge and Wordsworth stayed at Thomas Hutchinson's farm on the Tees at Sockburn, near Darlington.

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At Sockburn Coleridge wrote his ballad-poem Love, addressed to Sara. The knight mentioned is the mailed figure on the Conyers tomb in ruined Sockburn church. The figure has a wyvern at his feet, a reference to the Sockburn worm slain by Sir John Conyers (and a possible source for Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky). The worm was supposedly buried under the rock in the nearby pasture; this was the 'greystone' of Coleridge's 1st draft, later transformed into a 'mount'. The poem was a direct inspiration for John Keats' famous poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci.[15]

Coleridge's early intellectual debts, besides German idealists like Kant and critics like Lessing, were to William Godwin's Political Justice, especially during his Pantisocratic period, and to David Hartley's Observations on Man, which is the source of the psychology found in Frost at Midnight. Hartley argued that a person becomes aware of sensory events as impressions, and that "ideas" are derived by noticing similarities and differences between impressions and then by naming them. Connections resulting from the coincidence of impressions create linkages, so that the occurrence of an impression triggers those links and calls up the memory of those ideas with which it is associated (See Dorothy Emmet, "Coleridge and Philosophy").

Coleridge was critical of the literary taste of his contemporaries, and a literary conservative insofar as he was afraid that the lack of taste in the ever growing masses of literate people would mean a continued desecration of literature itself.

In 1800, he returned to England and shortly thereafter settled with his family and friends at Keswick in the Lake District of Cumberland to be near Grasmere, where Wordsworth had moved. Soon, however, he was beset by marital problems, illnesses, increased opium dependency, tensions with Wordsworth, and a lack of confidence in his poetic powers, all of which fueled the composition of Dejection: An Ode and an intensification of his philosophical studies.

Later life and increasing drug useEdit


Throughout his adult life, Coleridge suffered from crippling bouts of anxiety and depression; it has been speculated that he suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental disorder which was unknown during his life.[16] Coleridge chose to treat these episodes with opium, becoming an addict in the process. This addiction would affect him in the future.

In 1804, he travelled to Sicily and Malta, working for a time as Acting Public Secretary of Malta under the Commissioner, Alexander Ball, a task he performed quite successfully. However, he gave this up and returned to England in 1806. Dorothy Wordsworth was shocked at his condition upon his return. From 1807 to 1808, Coleridge returned to Malta and then travelled in Sicily and Italy, in the hope that leaving Britain's damp climate would improve his health and thus enable him to reduce his consumption of opium. Thomas de Quincey alleges in his Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets that it was during this period that Coleridge became a full-blown opium addict, using the drug as a substitute for the lost vigour and creativity of his youth. It has been suggested, however, that this reflects de Quincey's own experiences more than Coleridge's.

His opium addiction (he was using as much as 2 quarts of laudanum a week) now began to take over his life: he separated from his wife Sarah in 1808, quarrelled with Wordsworth in 1810, lost part of his annuity in 1811, and put himself under the care of Dr. Daniel in 1814.

In 1809, Coleridge made his 2nd attempt to become a newspaper publisher with the journal entitled The Friend. It was a weekly publication that, in Coleridge's typically ambitious style, was written, edited, and published almost entirely single-handedly. Given that Coleridge tended to be highly disorganized and had no head for business, the publication was probably doomed from the start. Coleridge financed the journal by selling over 500 subscriptions, over 2 dozen of which were sold to members of Parliament, but in late 1809, publication was crippled by a financial crisis and Coleridge was obliged to approach "Conversation Sharp",[17] Tom Poole and other wealthy friends for an emergency loan in order to continue. The Friend was an eclectic publication that drew upon every corner of Coleridge's remarkably diverse knowledge of law, philosophy, morals, politics, history, and literary criticism. Although it was often turgid, rambling, and inaccessible to most readers, it ran for 25 issues and was republished in book form a number of times. Years after its initial publication, The Friend became a highly influential work and its effect was felt on writers and philosophers from J.S. Mill to Emerson.

Between 1810 and 1820, this "giant among dwarfs", as he was often considered by his contemporaries, gave a series of lectures in London and Bristol; those on Shakespeare renewed interest in the playwright as a model for contemporary writers. Much of Coleridge's reputation as a literary critic is founded on the lectures that he undertook in the winter of 1810-1811 which were sponsored by the Philosophical Institution and given at Scot's Corporation Hall off Fetter Lane, Fleet Street. These lectures were heralded in the prospectus as "A Course of Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, in Illustration of the Principles of Poetry." Coleridge's ill-health, opium-addiction problems, and somewhat unstable personality meant that all his lectures were plagued with problems of delays and a general irregularity of quality from one lecture to the next. Furthermore, Coleridge's mind was extremely dynamic and his personality was spasmodic. As a result of these factors, Coleridge often failed to prepare anything but the loosest set of notes for his lectures and regularly entered into extremely long digressions which his audiences found difficult to follow. However, it was the lecture on Hamlet given on 2 January 1812 that was considered the best and has influenced Hamlet studies ever since. Before Coleridge, Hamlet was often denigrated and belittled by critics from Voltaire to Dr. Johnson. Coleridge rescued Hamlet and his thoughts on the play are often still published as supplements to the text.

In August 1814, Coleridge was approached by Lord Byron's publisher, John Murray, about the possibility of translating Goethe's classic Faust (1808). Coleridge was regarded by many as the greatest living writer on the demonic and he accepted the commission, only to abandon work on it after 6 weeks. Until recently, scholars have accepted that Coleridge never returned to the project, despite Goethe's own belief in the 1820s that Coleridge had in fact completed a long translation of the work. In September 2007, Oxford University Press sparked a heated scholarly controversy by publishing an English translation of Goethe's work which purported to be Coleridge's long-lost masterpiece (the text in question first appeared anonymously in 1821).[18]

In 1817, Coleridge, with his addiction worsening, his spirits depressed, and his family alienated, took residence in the home of the physician James Gillman, first at South Grove and later at nearby 3 The Grove, Highgate, London. He remained there for the rest of his life, and the house became a place of literary pilgrimage of writers including Carlyle and Emerson.

In Gillman's home, he finished his major prose work, the Biographia Literaria (1817), a volume composed of 23 chapters of autobiographical notes and dissertations on various subjects, including some incisive literary theory and criticism. He composed much poetry here and had many inspirations – a few of them from opium overdose. Perhaps because he conceived such grand projects, he had difficulty carrying them through to completion, and he berated himself for his "indolence". It is unclear whether his growing use of opium (and the brandy in which it was dissolved) was a symptom or a cause of his growing depression.

He published other writings while he was living at the Gillman home, notably Sibylline Leaves (1817), Aids to Reflection (1825), and Church and State (1826). He died in Highgate, London on 25 July 1834 as a result of heart failure compounded by an unknown lung disorder, possibly linked to his use of opium. Coleridge had spent 18 years under the roof of the Gillman family, who built an addition onto their home to accommodate the poet.[19]

Carlyle described him at Highgate: "Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate Hill, in those years, looking down on London and its smoke-tumult, like a sage escaped from the inanity of life`s battle.... The practical intellects of the world did not much heed him, or carelessly reckoned him a metaphysical dreamer: but to the rising spirits of the young generation he had this dusky sublime character; and sat there as a kind of Magus, girt in mystery and enigma; his Dodona oak-grove (Mr. Gilman`s house at Highgate) whispering strange things, uncertain whether oracles or jargon." [20]


Despite not enjoying the name recognition or popular acclaim that Wordsworth or Shelley have had, Coleridge is an important figure in English poetry. His poems directly and deeply influenced all the major poets of the age. He was known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in his careful reworking of his poems than any other poet, and Southey and Wordsworth were dependent on his professional advice.

His influence on Wordsworth is particularly important because many critics have credited Coleridge with the very idea of "Conversational Poetry". The idea of utilizing common, everyday language to express profound poetic images and ideas for which Wordsworth became so famous may have originated almost entirely in Coleridge's mind. It is difficult to imagine Wordsworth's great poems, The Excursion or The Prelude, ever having been written without the direct influence of Coleridge's originality.

As important as Coleridge was to poetry as a poet, he was equally important to poetry as a critic. Coleridge's philosophy of poetry, which he developed over many years, has been deeply influential in the field of literary criticism. This influence can be seen in such critics as A.O. Lovejoy and I.A. Richards.(Citation needed)

Critical introductionEdit

by Walter Pater

Coleridge's prose writings on philosophy, politics, religion and criticism, were but one element in a whole life-time of endeavours to present the then recent metaphysics of Germany to English readers, as a legitimate expansion of the older, classical and native, masters of what has been variously called the à priori, or absolute, or spiritual, or Platonic view of things. To introduce that spiritual philosophy, as represented by the more transcendental parts of Kant, and by Schelling, into all subjects, as a system of reason in them, one and ever identical with itself, however various the matter through which it was diffused, became with him the motive of an unflagging enthusiasm, which seems to have been the one thread of continuity in a life otherwise singularly wanting in unity of purpose, and in which he was certainly far from uniformly at his best. Fragmentary and obscure, but often eloquent, and always at once earnest and ingenious, those writings, supplementing his remarkable gift of conversation, were directly and indirectly influential, even on some the furthest removed from Coleridge’s own masters; on John Stuart Mill, for instance, and some of the earlier writers of the high-church school.

Like his verse, they display him also in two other characters — as a student of words, and as a psychologist, that is, as a more minute observer than other men of the phenomena of mind. To note the recondite associations of words, old or new; to expound the logic, the reasonable soul, of their various uses; to recover the interest of older writers who had had a phraseology of their own — this was a vein of enquiry allied to his undoubted gift of tracking out and analysing curious modes of thought. A quaint fragment on Human Life might serve to illustrate his study of the earlier English philosophical poetry. The latter gift, that power of the ‘subtle-souled psychologist,’ as Shelley calls him, seems to have been connected with a tendency to disease in the physical temperament, to something of a morbid want of balance in the parts where the physical and intellectual elements mix most intimately together, with a kind of languid visionariness, deep-seated in the very constitution of the "narcotist" who had quite a gift for "plucking the poisons of self-harm,' and which the actual habit of taking opium, accidentally acquired, did but reinforce.

This morbid languor of nature, connected both with his fitfulness of purpose and his rich delicate dreaminess, qualifies Coleridge’s poetic composition even more than his prose; his verse, with the exception of his avowedly political poems, being, unlike that of the ‘Lake School,’ to which in some respects he belongs, singularly unaffected by any moral, or professional, or personal effort and ambition,—‘written,’ as he says, ‘after the more violent emotions of sorrow, to give him pleasure, when perhaps nothing else could;’ but coming thus, indeed, very close to his own most intimately personal characteristics, and having a certain languidly soothing grace or cadence, for its most fixed quality, from first to last. After some Platonic soliloquy on a flower opening on a fine day in February, he goes on—

  ‘Dim similitudes
Weaving in mortal strains, I’ve stolen one hour
From anxious self, life’s cruel task-master!
And the warm wooings of this sunny day
Tremble along my frame and harmonise
The attempered organ, that even saddest thoughts
Mix with some sweet sensations, like harsh tunes
Played deftly on a soft-toned instrument.’

The expression of two opposed yet allied elements of sensibility in these lines is very true to Coleridge;— the grievous agitation, the grievous listlessness, almost never entirely relieved, with a certain physical voluptuousness. He has spoken several times of the scent of the bean-field in the air: the tropical notes in a chilly climate — his is a nature which will make the most of these, which finds a sort of caress in these things. "Kubla Khan", a fragment of a poem actually composed in some certainly not quite healthy sleep, is perhaps chiefly interesting as showing, by the mode of its composition, how physical, how much a matter of a diseased and valetudinarian temperament in its moments of relief, Coleridge’s happiest gift really was; and, side by side with "Kubla Khan", should be read, as Coleridge placed it, the "Pains of Sleep", to illustrate that retarding physical burden in his temperament, that "unimpassioned grief," the source of which was so near the source of those pleasures. Connected also with this, and again in contrast with Wordsworth, is the limited quantity of his poetical performance, which he himself regrets so eloquently in the lines addressed to Wordsworth after his recitation of The Prelude. It is like some exotic plant just managing to blossom a little in the somewhat un-English air of Coleridge’s own birth-place, but never quite well there.

The period of Coleridge’s residence at Nether Stowey, 1797–1798, was his annus mirabilis. Nearly all the chief works by which his poetic fame will live were then composed or planned. What shapes itself for criticism as the main phenomenon of Coleridge’s poetic life, is not, as with most poets, the gradual development of a poetic gift, determined, enriched, retarded, by the circumstances of the poet’s life, but the sudden blossoming, through a short season, of such a gift already perfect in its kind, which thereafter deteriorates as suddenly, with something like premature old age. Connecting this phenomenon with the leading motive of his prose writings, we might note it as the deterioration of a productive or creative power into one merely metaphysical or discursive.

In the unambitious conception of his function as a poet, and in the limited quantity of his poetical performance, as I have said, he was a contrast to his friend Wordsworth. That friendship with Wordsworth, the chief "developing" circumstance of his poetic life, comprehended a very close intellectual sympathy; and in this association chiefly, lies whatever truth there may be in the popular classification of Coleridge as a member of what is called the "Lake School." Coleridge’s philosophical speculations do really turn on the ideas which underlay Wordsworth’s poetical practice. His prose works are one long explanation of all that is involved in that famous distinction between the Fancy and the Imagination. Of what is understood by both as the imaginative quality in the use of mere poetic figures, we may take some words of Shakespeare as an example:—

‘My cousin Suffolk,
My soul shall thine keep company to heaven;
Tarry, sweet soul, for mine, then fly abreast.’

The complete infusion here, of the figure into the thought, so vividly realized that though the birds are not actually mentioned yet the sense of their flight, conveyed to us by the single word ‘abreast,’ comes to be more than half of the thought itself;—this, as the expression of exalted feeling, is an instance of what Coleridge meant by Imagination. And this sort of identification of the poet’s thought, of himself, with the image or figure which serves him, is the secret, sometimes, of a singularly entire realization of that image, which makes this figure of Coleridge’s, for instance, ‘imaginative’:—

‘Amid the howl of more than wintry storms,
The halcyon hears the voice of vernal hours
Already on the wing.’

There are many such figures both in Coleridge’s prose and verse. He has too his passages of that sort of impassioned contemplation on the permanent and elementary conditions of nature and humanity, which Wordsworth held to be the essence of the poetic life, and its object to awaken in other men—those ‘moments,’ as Coleridge says, addressing him,—

‘Moments awful,
Now in thy inner life, and now abroad,
When power streamed from thee, and thy soul received
The light reflected, as a light bestowed.’

The whole of the poem from which those lines are taken, "composed on the night after Wordsworth’s recitation of a poem on the growth of an individual mind," is, in its strain of impassioned contemplation, and in the combined justness and elevation of its philosophical expression—

‘high and passionate thoughts
To their own music chanted;’—

entirely sympathetic with The Prelude which it celebrates, and of which the subject is, in effect, the generation of the spirit of the "Lake poetry." The "Lines to Joseph Cottle" have the same philosophically imaginative character; the "Ode to Dejection" being Coleridge’s most sustained effort of this sort.

It is in a highly sensitive apprehension of the aspects of external nature that Coleridge identifies himself most closely with one of the main tendencies of the ‘Lake School;’ a tendency instinctive, and no mere matter of theory, in him as in Wordsworth. That record of the

‘green light
Which lingers in the west,’

and again, of

‘the western sky
And its peculiar tint of yellow green,’

which Byron found ludicrously untrue, but which surely needs no defense, is a characteristic example of a singular watchfulness for the minute fact and expression of natural scenery, pervading all he writes — a closeness to the exact physiognomy of nature, having something to do with that idealistic philosophy, which sees in the external world no mere concurrence of mechanical agencies, but an animated body, informed and made expressive, like the body of man, by an indwelling intelligence. It was a tendency, doubtless, in the air, for Shelley too is affected by it, and Turner, with the school of landscape which followed him. ‘I had found,’ Coleridge tells us,

‘That outward forms, the loftiest, still receive
Their finer influence from the world within;
Fair ciphers of vague import, where the eye
Traces no spot, in which the heart may read
History and prophecy….’

and this induces in him no indifference to actual colour and form and process, but such minute realism as this—

‘The thin grey cloud is spread on high,
It covers but not hides the sky.
The moon is behind and at the full;
And yet she looks both small and dull;’

or this, which has a touch of ‘romantic’ weirdness—

‘Nought was green upon the oak
But moss and rarest misletoe;’

or this—

‘There is not wind enough to twirl
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky;’—

or this, with a weirdness again, like that of some wild French etcher —

‘Lo! the new-moon winter-bright!
And over-spread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o’erspread,
But rimmed and circled with a silver thread,)
I see the old moon in her lap, foretelling
The coming on of rain and squally blast.’

He has the same imaginative apprehension of the silent and unseen processes of nature, its ‘ministries’ of dew and frost, for instance; as when he writes in April —

‘A balmy night! and though the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.’

Of such imaginative treatment of landscape there is no better instance than in the description of the Dell, in "Fears in Solitude" —

  ‘A green and silent spot amid the hills,
A small and silent dell! O’er stiller place
No singing sky-lark ever poised himself —
                ‘But the dell,
Bathed by the mist is fresh and delicate
As vernal cornfield, or the unripe flax
When, through its half-transparent stalks, at eve,
The level sunshine glimmers with green light—
                ‘The gust that roared and died away
To the distant tree’—
                        ‘heard and only heard
In this low dell, bowed not the delicate grass.’

This curious dwelling of the mind on one particular spot, till it seems to attain real expression and a sort of soul in it — a mood so characteristic of the Lake School — occurs in an earnest political poem, "written in April, 1798, during the alarm of an invasion;" and that silent dell is the background against which the tumultuous fears of the poet are in strong relief, while the quiet sense of it, maintained all through them, gives a real poetic unity to the piece. Good political poetry — political poetry that shall be permanently moving — can, perhaps, only be written on motives which, for those whom they concern, have ceased to be open questions and are really beyond argument; and Coleridge’s political poems are for the most part on open questions. For although it was a great part of his intellectual ambition to subject political questions to the action of the fundamental ideas of his philosophy, he was still an ardent partisan, first on one side, then on the other, of the actual politics of the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, where there is still room for much difference of opinion. Yet The Destiny of Nations, though formless as a whole, and unfinished, has many traces of his most elevated speculation, cast into that sort of imaginative philosophical expression, in which, in effect, the language itself is inseparable from, or a part of the thought. "France, an Ode", begins with the famous apostrophe to Liberty:—

  ‘Ye Clouds! that far above me float and pause,
    Whose pathless march no mortal may control!
  Ye Ocean-Waves! that wheresoe’er ye roll,
Yield homage only to eternal laws!
Ye Woods! that listen to the night-bird’s singing,
  Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclined,
Save when your own imperious branches swinging,
  Have made a solemn music of the wind!
Where like a man beloved of God,
Through glooms which never woodman trod,
    How oft, pursuing fancies holy,
My moonlight way o’er flowering weeds I wound,
Inspired, beyond the guess of folly,
By each rude shape and wild unconquerable sound!
O ye loud Waves! and O ye Forests high!
  And O ye Clouds that far above me soar’d!
Thou rising Sun! thou blue rejoicing Sky!
Yea, everything that is and will be free!
Bear witness for me, wheresoe’er ye be,
With what deep worship I have still adored
        The spirit of divinest liberty.’

And the whole ode, though, in Coleridge’s way, not quite equal to that exordium, is an example of strong national sentiment, partly in indignant reaction against his own earlier sympathy with the French republic, inspiring a composition which, in spite of some turgid lines, really justifies itself as poetry, and has that true unity of effect which the ode requires. Liberty, after all his hopes of young France, is only to be found in nature:—

‘Thou speedest on thy subtle pinions
The guide of homeless winds, and playmate of the waves!’

In his changes of political sentiment Coleridge was associated with the Lake School; and there is yet one other very different sort of sentiment in which he is one with that school, yet all himself, his sympathy, namely, with the animal world. That was a sentiment connected at once with the love of outward nature in himself and in the ‘Lake School,’ and its assertion of the natural affections in their simplicity; with the homeliness and pity, consequent upon that assertion. The "Lines to a Young Ass", tethered,

‘Where the close-eaten grass is scarcely seen,
While sweet around her waves the templing green,’

which had seemed merely whimsical in their day, indicate a vein of interest constant in Coleridge’s poems, and at its height in his chief poems — in Christabel, where it has its effect, as it were antipathetically, in the vivid realisation of the serpentine element in Geraldine’s nature; and in The Ancient Mariner, whose fate is interwoven with that of the wonderful bird, the curse for whose death begins to pass away at the Mariner’s blessing of the water-snakes, and where the moral of the love of all creatures, as a sort of religious duty, is definitely expressed.

Christabel, though not printed till 1816, was written mainly in the year 1797. "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was printed as a contribution to the Lyrical Ballads, in 1798. These two poems belong to the great year of Coleridge’s poetic production, his twenty-fifth year. In poetic quality, above all in that most poetic of all qualities, a keen sense of and delight in beauty, the infection of which lays hold upon the reader, they are quite out of proportion to all his other composition. The form in both is that of the ballad, with some of its terminology, and some also of its quaint conceits. They connect themselves with that revival of ballad literature, of which Percy’s Relics, and, in another way, Macpherson’s Ossian are monuments, and which afterwards so powerfully affected Scott.

‘Young-eyed poesy
All deftly masked as hoar antiquity,’—

"The Ancient Mariner", as also in its measure Christabel, is a romantic poem, impressing us by bold invention, and appealing to that taste for the supernatural, that longing for a shudder, to which the ‘romantic’ school in Germany, and its derivatives in England and France, directly ministered. In Coleridge personally, this taste had been encouraged by his odd and out-of-the-way reading in the old-fashioned literature of the marvellous — books like Purchas’s Pilgrims, early voyages like Hakluyt’s, old naturalists and visionary moralists like Thomas Burnet, from whom he quotes the motto of The Ancient Mariner — Facile credo, plures esse naturas invisibiles quam visibiles in rerum universitate, &c. Fancies of the strange things which may very well happen, even in broad daylight, to men shut up alone in ships far off on the sea, seem to have arisen in the human mind in all ages with a peculiar readiness, and often have about them, from the story of the theft of Dionysus downwards, the fascination of a certain dreamy grace, which distinguishes them from other kinds of marvellous inventions. This sort of fascination "The Ancient Mariner" brings to its highest degree; it is the delicacy, the dreamy grace in his presentation of the marvellous, which makes Coleridge’s work so remarkable.

The too palpable intruders from a spiritual world, in almost all ghost literature, in Scott and Shakespeare even, have a kind of coarseness or crudeness. Coleridge’s power is in the very fineness with which, as with some really ghostly finger, he brings home to our inmost sense his inventions, daring as they are — the skeleton ship, the polar spirit, the inspiriting of the dead bodies of the ship’s crew; "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" has the plausibility, the perfect adaptation to reason and the general aspect of life, which belongs to the marvellous when actually presented as part of a credible experience, in our dreams. Doubtless the mere experience of the opium-eater, the habit he must almost necessarily fall into of noting the more elusive phenomena of dreams, had something to do with that; in its essence, however, it is connected with a more purely intellectual circumstance in the development of Coleridge’s poetic gift.

Someone once asked William Blake, to whom Coleridge has many resemblances, when either is at his best, (that whole episode of the inspiriting of the ship’s crew in "The Ancient Mariner" being comparable to Blake’s well-known design of the morning stars singing together,) whether he had ever seen a ghost, and was surprised when the famous seer, who ought, one might think, to have seen so many, answered frankly, "Only once!" His "spirits," at once more delicate, and so much more real than any ghost — at once the burden and the privilege of his temperament — like it, were an integral element in his every-day life. And the difference of mood expressed in that question and its answer, is indicative of a change of temper in regard to the supernatural, which has passed over the whole modern mind, and of which the true measure is the influence of the writings of Swedenborg: and what that change is we may see, if we compare the vision by which Swedenborg was called, as he thought, to his work, with the ghost which called Hamlet; or the spells of Marlowe’s Faust with those of Goethe’s.

The modern mind, so minutely self-scrutinising, if it is to be affected at all by a sense of the supernatural, requires to be more finely touched than was possible in the older romantic presentment of it. The spectral object, so crude, so impossible, has become plausible, as ‘the spot upon the brain that will show itself without,’ and is understood to be but a condition of one’s own mind, for which, according to the scepticism latent at least in so much of our modern philosophy, the so-called real things themselves are but spectra, after all.

It is this finer, more delicately marvellous supernaturalism, the fruit of his more delicate psychology, which Coleridge infuses into romantic narrative, itself also then a new, or revived thing in English literature; and with a fineness of weird effect in "The Ancient Mariner", unknown in those old, more simple, romantic legends and ballads. It is a flower of medieval, or later German romance, growing up in the peculiarly compounded atmosphere of modern psychological speculation, and putting forth in it wholly new qualities. The quaint prose commentary, which runs side by side with the verse of "The Ancient Mariner", illustrates this — a composition of quite a different shade of beauty and merit from that of the verse which it accompanies, connecting this the chief poem of Coleridge with his philosophy, and emphasizing in it that psychological element of which I have spoken, its curious soul-lore.

Completeness, the perfectly rounded unity and wholeness of the impression it leaves on the mind of a reader who really gives himself to it,— that, too, is one of the characteristics of a really excellent work, in the poetic, as in every other kind of art; and by this completeness "The Ancient Mariner" certainly gains upon Christabel,— a completeness, entire as that of Wordsworth’s Leech-gatherer, or Keats’s "Saint Agnes’ Eve", each typical in its way of such wholeness or entirety of effect on a careful reader. It is Coleridge’s own great complete work, the one really finished thing, in a life of many beginnings. Christabel remained a fragment — the first, and portions of a second, part, on which two other parts should have followed, each with its own "conclusion"; and we seem to have lost more by its incompleteness than the mere amount of excellent verse; for what Coleridge tells us about it suggests the notion of a very exquisitely limited design, with that pleasing sense of unity, which is secured in "The Ancient Mariner", partly by the skill with which the incidents of the marriage-feast break in, dreamily, from time to time, upon the main story; and with which the whole night-mare story itself is made to end, so pleasantly and reassuringly, among the clear, fresh sounds and lights of the bay, where it began, with

‘The moon-light steeped in silentness
The steady weather-cock.’

So different from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in regard to this completeness of effect, Christabel illustrates the same complexion of motives, the same intellectual situation. Here too the work is that peculiar to one who touches the characteristic motives of the old romantic ballad in a spirit made subtle and fine by modern reflexion, and which we feel, I think, in such passages as —

‘But though my slumber had gone by,
This dream it would not pass away —
It seems to live upon mine eye;’—

and —

‘For she belike, hath drunken deep
Of all the blessedness of sleep;’—

and again —

‘With such perplexity of mind
As dreams too lively leave behind.’

And the gift of handling the finer passages of human feeling, at once with power and delicacy, which was another of the results of that finer psychology, of his exquisitely refined habit of self-reflexion, is illustrated by a passage on Friendship in the Second Part:—

  ‘Alas! they had been friends in youth;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain.
And thus it chanced, as I divine,
With Roland and Sir Leoline.
Each spake words of high disdain
And insult to his heart’s best brother:
They parted—ne’er to meet again!
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining—
They stood aloof the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between;—
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been.’

I suppose these lines leave almost every reader with a quickened sense of the beauty and compass of human feeling; and it is the sense of such richness and beauty which, in spite of his ‘dejection,’ in spite of that burden of his morbid lassitude, accompanies Coleridge himself through life. A warm poetic joy in every thing beautiful, whether it be a moral sentiment, like the friendship of Roland or Leoline, or only the flakes of falling light from the water-snakes — this joy, visiting him, now and again, after sickly dreams, waking or sleeping, as a relief not to be forgotten, and with such a power of felicitous expression that the infection of it passes irresistibly to the reader,— this is the predominant quality in the matter of his poetry, as cadence is the predominant quality of its form.

"We bless Thee for our creation!" he might have said, in his later period of definite religious assent, "because the world is so beautiful; the world of ideas — living spirits, detached from the divine nature itself, to inform and lift the heavy mass of material things; the world of man, above all in his melodious and intelligible speech; the world of living creatures and natural scenery; the world of dreams. What he really did say, by way of a Tombless Epitaph, is true enough of himself —

  ‘Sickness, ’tis true,
Whole years of weary days, besieged him close,
Even to the gates and inlets of his life!
But it is true, no less, that strenuous, firm,
And with a natural gladness, he maintained
The citadel unconquered, and in joy
Was strong to follow the delightful Muse.
For not a hidden path, that to the shades
Of the beloved Parnassian forest leads,
Lurked undiscovered by him; not a rill
There issues from the fount of Hippocrene,
But he had traced it upward to its source,
Through open glade, dark glen, and secret dell,
Knew the gay wild flowers on its banks, and culled
Its med’cinable herbs. Yea, oft alone,
Piercing the long-neglected holy cave,
The haunt obscure of old Philosophy,
He bade with lifted torch its starry walls
Sparkle, as erst they sparkled to the flame
Of odorous lamps tended by Saint and Sage.
O framed for calmer times and nobler hearts!
O studious Poet, eloquent for truth!
Philosopher! contemning wealth and death,
Yet docile, childlike, full of Life and Love![21]

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla KhanEdit


Coleridge is probably best known for his long poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. Even those who have never read the Rime have come under its influence: its words have given the English language the metaphor of an albatross around one's neck, the quotation of "water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink" (almost always rendered as "but not a drop to drink"), and the phrase "a sadder and a wiser man" (again, usually rendered as "sadder but wiser man"). Christabel is known for its musical rhythm, language, and its Gothic tale.

Kubla Khan, or, A Vision in a Dream, A Fragment, although shorter, is also widely known. Both Kubla Khan and Christabel have an additional "romantic" aura because they were never finished. Stopford Brooke characterised both poems as having no rival due to their "exquisite metrical movement" and "imaginative phrasing."

The Conversation poemsEdit

Main article: Conversation poems

The 8 of Coleridge's poems listed above are now often discussed as a group entitled "Conversation poems". The term itself was coined in 1928 by George McLean Harper, who borrowed the subtitle of The Nightingale: A conversation poem (1798) to describe the 7 other poems as well.[22][23] The poems are considered by many critics to be among Coleridge's finest verses; thus Harold Bloom has written, "With Dejection, The Ancient Mariner, and Kubla Khan, Frost at Midnight shows Coleridge at his most impressive."[24] They are also among his most influential poems, as discussed further below.

Harper himself considered that the 8 poems represented a form of blank verse that is "...more fluent and easy than Milton's, or any that had been written since Milton".[25] In 2006 Robert Koelzer wrote about another aspect of this apparent "easiness", noting that Conversation poems such as "... Coleridge's The Eolian Harp and The Nightingale maintain a middle register of speech, employing an idiomatic language that is capable of being construed as un-symbolic and un-musical: language that lets itself be taken as 'merely talk' rather than rapturous 'song'."[26]

File:Ancient mariner statue.jpg

The last 10 lines of "Frost at Midnight" were chosen by Harper as the "best example of the peculiar kind of blank verse Coleridge had evolved, as natural-seeming as prose, but as exquisitely artistic as the most complicated sonnet."[27] The speaker of the poem is addressing his infant son, asleep by his side:

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

In 1965, M.H. Abrams wrote a broad description that applies to the Conversation poems: "The speaker begins with a description of the landscape; an aspect or change of aspect in the landscape evokes a varied by integral process of memory, thought, anticipation, and feeling which remains closely intervolved with the outer scene. In the course of this meditation the lyric speaker achieves an insight, faces up to a tragic loss, comes to a moral decision, or resolves an emotional problem. Often the poem rounds itself to end where it began, at the outer scene, but with an altered mood and deepened understanding which is the result of the intervening meditation."[28] In fact, Abrams was describing both the Conversation poems and later poems influenced by them. Abrams' essay has been called a "touchstone of literary criticism".[29] As Paul Magnuson described it in 2002, "Abrams credited Coleridge with originating what Abrams called the 'greater Romantic lyric', a genre that began with Coleridge's 'Conversation' poems, and included Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, Shelley's Stanzas Written in Dejection and Keats's Ode to a Nightingale, and was a major influence on more modern lyrics by Matthew Arnold, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, and W. H. Auden."[23]

Biographia LiterariaEdit

In addition to his poetry, Coleridge also wrote influential pieces of literary criticism including Biographia Literaria, a collection of his thoughts and opinions on literature which he published in 1817. The work delivered both biographical explanations of the author's life as well as his impressions on literature. The collection also contained an analysis of a broad range of philosophical principles of literature ranging from Aristotle to Immanuel Kant and Schelling and applied them to the poetry of peers such as William Wordsworth.[30][31] Coleridge's explanation of metaphysical principles were popular topics of discourse in academic communities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and T.S. Eliot stated that he believed that Coleridge was "perhaps the greatest of English critics, and in a sense the last." Eliot suggests that Coleridge displayed "natural abilities" far greater than his contemporaries, dissecting literature and applying philosophical principles of metaphysics in a way that brought the subject of his criticisms away from the text and into a world of logical analysis that mixed logical analysis and emotion. However, Eliot also criticizes Coleridge for allowing his emotion to play a role in the metaphysical process, believing that critics should not have emotions that are not provoked by the work being studied.[32] Hugh Kenner in Historical Fictions, discusses Norman Furman's Coleridge, the Damaged Archangel and suggests that the term "criticism" is too often applied to Biographia Literaria, which both he and Furman describe as having failed to explain or help the reader understand works of art. To Kenner, Coleridge's attempt to discuss complex philosophical concepts without describing the rational process behind them displays a lack of critical thinking that makes the volume more of a biography than a work of criticism.[33]

Coleridge and the GothicEdit

File:Albatros coleridge.jpeg

Coleridge wrote reviews of Ann Radcliffe's books and The Mad Monk, among others. He comments in his reviews: "Situations of torment, and images of naked horror, are easily conceived; and a writer in whose works they abound, deserves our gratitude almost equally with him who should drag us by way of sport through a military hospital, or force us to sit at the dissecting-table of a natural philosopher. To trace the nice boundaries, beyond which terror and sympathy are deserted by the pleasurable emotions, - to reach those limits, yet never to pass them, hic labor, hic opus est." and "The horrible and the preternatural have usually seized on the popular taste, at the rise and decline of literature. Most powerful stimulants, they can never be required except by the torpor of an unawakened, or the languor of an exhausted, appetite... We trust, however, that satiety will banish what good sense should have prevented; and that, wearied with fiends, incomprehensible characters, with shrieks, murders, and subterraneous dungeons, the public will learn, by the multitude of the manufacturers, with how little expense of thought or imagination this species of composition is manufactured."

However, Coleridge used these elements in poems such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), Christabel and Kubla Khan (published in 1816, but known in manuscript form before then) and certainly influenced other poets and writers of the time. Poems like this both drew inspiration from and helped to inflame the craze for Gothic romance. Mary Shelley, who knew Coleridge well, mentions The Rime of the Ancient Mariner twice directly in Frankenstein, and some of the descriptions in the novel echo it indirectly. Although William Godwin, her father, disagreed with Coleridge on some important issues, he respected his opinions and Coleridge often visited the Godwins. Mary Shelley later recalled hiding behind the sofa and hearing his voice chanting The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


In 1824 Coleridge was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Literature, which brought him a pension of 100 guineas.[1]

A commemorative bust of Coleridge by Sir Hamo Thorneycroft was unveiled on 3 May 1885 in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.[34]

7 of his poems ("The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Kubla Khan," "Love," "Youth and Age," "Time, Real and Imaginary," "Work without Hope," and "Glycine's Song") were included in the Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900.[35]






Books on ShakespeareEdit


  • The Watchman: A periodical publication, in prose and verse, nos. 1-10 (Bristol: Published by the author and by Parsons, London, 1 March-13 May 1796).
  • The Friend: A literary, moral, and political weekly waper, 27 parts, plus one supernumerary (Penrith: Printed & published by J. Brown and sold by Longman & Co., and Clement, London, 1 June 1809-15 March 1810;
    • republished as The Friend; A series of essays. London: Gale & Curtis, 1812
    • new edition, with added material (3 volumes), London: Rest Fenner, 1818; (1 volume), Burlington, VT: Chauncey Goodrich, 1831.

Collected editionsEdit

Letters and notebooksEdit

  • Letters, Conversations, and Reflections of S.T. Coleridge. (2 volumes), London: Edward Moxon, 1836; (1 volume, New York: Harper & Bros., 1836.[44] Volume I, Volume II.
  • Letters (edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge). (2 volumes), London: Heinemann, 1895; Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1895. Volume I, Volume II
  • Unpublished Letters (edited by Earl Leslie Griggs (2 volumes), London: Constable, 1932; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1933.
  • Collected Letters (edited by Earl Leslie Griggs). (6 volumes), Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1956-1973.
  • Notebooks (edited by Kathleen Coburn). (3 volumes to date), New York: Pantheon, 1957- .
  • Selected letters (edited by H.J. Jackson). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1987.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[45]

Poems by Samuel Taylor ColeridgeEdit

3 Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

3 Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  1. Kubla Khan
  2. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

See alsoEdit


Richard Burton reads Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem 'Frost at Midnight'

Richard Burton reads Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem 'Frost at Midnight'.

The Pains of Sleep by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Pains of Sleep by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (read by Kristin Hughes)

"Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (read by Kristin Hughes)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - The Nightingale - poetry reading

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - The Nightingale - poetry reading

  • Abrams, M. H. (1965). "Structure and Style in the Greater Romantic Lyric". In Hilles, Frederick W.; Bloom, Harold. From Sensibility to Romanticism. Oxford University Press. pp. 527–8. 
  • Bate, Walter Jackson (1968). Coleridge. The Macmillan Company. ISBN 0826207138. 
  • Beckson, Karl E. (1963). Great Theories in Literary Criticism. Farrar, Straus. 
  • Bloom, Harold (1971). The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry (Revised Edition). ISBN 9780801491177.  Close readings of all of the Conversation Poems.
  • Coleridge (1889). Shewell & Sanborn. 
  • Eliot, T.S. (1956). "The Perfect Critic". Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot. Harcourt. ISBN 0151807027. 
  • Harper, George McLean (1928 (reprinted 1969)). "Coleridge's Conversation Poems". Spirit of Delight. Ayer Publishing. ISBN 9780836900163. "The Poems of Friendship make yet another claim on our attention: they are among the supreme examples of a peculiar kind of poetry. Others not unlike them, though not surpassing them, are Ovid's `Cum subit illius tristissima noctis imago,' and several of the Canti of Leopardi." 
  • Holmes, Richard (1982). Coleridge. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-287592-2. 
  • Kenner, Hugh (1995). "Coleridge". Historical Fictions. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0865474249. 
  • Koelzer, Robert (Spring 2006). "Abrams Among the Nightingales: Revisiting the Greater Romantic Lyric". The Wordsworth Circle 37 (2): 67–71.  Detailed, recent discussion of the Conversation Poems.
  • Magnuson, Paul (2002). "The 'Conversation' poems". In Newlyn, Lucy. The Cambridge Companion to Coleridge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 32–44. ISBN 0521659094. 
  • Morley, Henry (1884). Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christobel, &c.. New York: Routledge. 
  • Radley, Virginia L. (1966). Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Twayne Publishers, Inc.. ISBN 0805711007. 
  • Riem, Natale Antonella (2005) The One Life. Coleridge and Hinduism, Jaipur-New Delhi, Rawat.
  • Reid, N. Coleridge, Form and Symbol: Or the Ascertaining Vision (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006). (Nineteenth Century Series).



  1. 1.0 1.1 John William Cousin, "Coleridge, Samuel Taylor," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910, 89-90. Web, Dec. 26, 2017.
  2. Cousin, 90-91.
  3. Radley, 13
  4. James Gillman (2008) The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Bastion Books
  5. Coleridge,Samuel Taylor, Joseph Noel Paton, Katharine Lee Bates.Coleridge's Ancient Mariner Ed Katharine Lee Bates. Shewell, & Sanborn (1889) p.2
  6. Morley, Henry. Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christobel, &c. New York: Routledge (1884) pp.i-iv
  7. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  8. Radley, 14
  9. Holmes, 4
  10. "Chatterton". St Mary Redcliffe. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  11. Bate, 24
  12. Radley, 16
  13. Welcome to Taunton's Historic Unitarian Congregation and Chapel (Dec. 2005). Unitarian Chapel, Mary Street, Taunton. Obtained 21 Oct. 2006.
  14. Joshua Toulmin (*1331) 1740 – 1815. Calvert-Toulmin, Bruce. (2006) Toulmin Family Home Page. Obtained 21 Oct. 2006.
  15. The Conyers falchion (a broad, short medieval sword) is traditionally presented to incoming Bishops of Durham, as they ride across the bridge at Croft.
  16. Jamison, Kay Redfield. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. Free Press (1994.), 219–224.
  17. For an appraisal of Sharp's role in Coleridge's career, see Knapman, D. (2004) Conversation Sharp: The biography of a London gentleman, Richard Sharp (1759-1835), in letters, prose and verse. [Private Publication]. (Held by British Library)
  18. The debate is being followed at a dedicated page on "Faustus (1821) controversy". 
  19. Gillman, Alexander William (1895) Searches into the History of the Gillman or Gilman Family. London: Published by Elliot Stock
  20. Carlye, Thomas, Life of John Sterling, Book 1 Chapter 8
  21. from Walter Pater, "Critical Introduction: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Feb. 26, 2016.
  22. Harper (1928), pp. 3–27.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Magnuson (2002), p. 45.
  24. Bloom (1971), p. 202.
  25. Harper (1928), p. 11.
  26. Koelzer (2006), p. 68.
  27. Harper (1928), p. 15.
  28. Abrams (1965), p.
  29. Koelzer (2006). p. 67.
  30. Beckson (1963), pp. 265–266.
  31. See article on Mimesis
  32. Eliot (1956), pp. 50–56.
  33. Kenner (1995), pp. 40–45.
  34. Samuel Taylor Colerige, People, History, Westminster Abbey. Web, July 11, 2016.
  35. Alphabetical list of authors: Brontë, Emily to Cutts, Lord. Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 16, 2012.
  36. The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1875), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  37. Coleridge's Poems: A facsimile reproduction of the proofs and mss. of some of the poems (1899), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  38. Poems of Nature and Romance 1794-1807 (1923), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  39. Osorio: A tragedy (1873), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  40. The Piccolomini, Project Gutenberg. Web, July 23, 2013.
  41. The Works of S.T. Coleridge, Prose and verse (1845), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  42. The Poetical and Dramatic Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1880), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  43. The Golden Book of Coleridge (1922), Internet Archive. Web, July 22, 2013.
  44. Letters, Conversations, and Reflections of S.T. Coleridge (1836), Internet Archive. Web, July 23, 2013.
  45. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poetry Foundation. Web, July 22, 2013.

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