A personal God had no empirical reality. Unitarians and various sorts of deists adhered to a divinity which was known through sensation: a Nature god of sorts. Yet his enduring commitments showed through.
Understanding Imagination - The Reason of Images | Dennis L Sepper | Springer
In his extensive correspondence of the period Coleridge proclaimed himself a Necessitarian for whom everything had a place in the divine scheme. A traditional faith was confirmed through temptation. Community after the collapse of Pantisocracy meant a wife and family, impassioned friendships based on shared concerns, and the company of kindred spirits.
The arduous and ultimately futile enterprise of The Watchman led him to seek a steady haven where he might work and write in sympathetic surroundings. Poole had proved a loyal friend and steady companion; his patronage was crucial to the success of the resettlement. Wordsworth, whom Coleridge had met in Bristol some time before, came to visit with his sister, Dorothy , and they soon occupied a substantial house at Alfoxden, walking distance from Nether Stowey.
The lives they were leading on the fringes of conventional society would become the subject of their work. The jealous Sara had spilled a pan of boiling milk on his foot, excluding him from the company of Dorothy and William Wordsworth, as well as Charles Lamb, on a jaunt in the surrounding spur of low hills— combes , in local parlance—the Quantocks. From his confinement in the garden, he celebrates the pleasures of the natural world as seen from within this harmonious community of like-minded individuals. The detailed evocation of their itinerary marks the apogee of his response to landscape.
Sensation proves adequate to human need; Nature is a providential resource against isolation. This proved to be the most satisfying arrangement he would ever enjoy. It was the setting of his verse breakthrough, of the annus mirabilis in which most of his enduring poems were written.
Here he built on the achievement of Clevedon, writing reflectively about his inner life in a social environment which excited and encouraged the questions he was asking. Was natural beauty sufficient to our moral needs?
And more speculatively, what was the meaning of nature conceived as an organ of divine will? How did this bear on our idea of society? These questions haunt the reflective idiom which he developed in the course of this residence of a year and a half at Nether Stowey, with storm clouds brewing on the horizon. Speech replaces stale poetic convention from the start. The character of the poet lies at the center of the exercise. It provided the fresh air which their assumptions required. If Nature were to be their muse, and the source of their living values, it would have to be observed in all its sorts and conditions.
At loose ends Coleridge found in Wordsworth a catalyst for his thinking about poetry. The poem was not liked even then. It might be verse, but it was not good poetry. The story of its genesis is one of the prodigies of English literature. In the course of a solitary walk in the combes near the Bristol Channel in the fall of , Coleridge took two grains of opium for the dysentery which had been bothering him for some time. He retired to an old stone farmhouse some distance from Porlock, where he fell asleep while reading an old travel book, Purchase His Pilgrimage , by Samuel Purchase.
He awoke hours later to record the extraordinary train of images which arose during his opiated stupor. If they are significant at all it is because they epitomize his reputation as the truant phantast of romantic legend. He did much to encourage it, certainly, but he lived to regret what his friends made of him and to defend himself against charges of idleness and premature decay. The Coleridge phenomenon, as it might be called, has been recounted in every literary generation, usually with the emphasis on wonder rather than disappointment, though sometimes—among moralizing critics, never among poets—with a venom which recalls the disillusionment of his associates.
This became the germ of a momentous project in which Wordsworth acted as collaborator. He contributed some few lines of verse to the poem in addition. It underlines the collective enterprise involved in the inauguration of the new poetic idiom which would eventually be called Romantic. Creation of this kind is more than a matter of oracular power. It has much to do with rational inquiry and exchange. Further, the episode gives some idea of the working relations between Coleridge and Wordsworth at the moment when the scheme for Lyrical Ballads was being hatched.
Their constant companionship on walks, at Alfoxden and elsewhere, gave rise to extended discussion of poetry present and past. Both proved open to suggestion; both grew as poets through their conversations. It is the story of a project. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency.
Lyrical Ballads was deliberately experimental, as the authors insisted from the start. The fact that it was a collaboration meant that both authors took responsibility for the design of the experiment.
This was more than a volume of poems from various hands. Wordsworth frankly disliked it after the reviews came in, but Lamb led the way in appreciating its odd mix of romance and realism. Whatever their liabilities of dramatic construction, the highly charged imagery of these poems has made a strong impression. Its influence rings clear in Shelley and Keats in the next generation, and in Tennyson , Browning , Rossetti , and Swinburne among their Victorian inheritors.
In the title of W. It stands out, a monument to the realized achievement of the experiment. What Wordsworth would make of the conversation poem is the story of the most distinguished poetic career of the period. Their achievement in the developing conversational line has seemed more momentous in retrospect than it did at the time.
Yet the example of the conversation poems took where it mattered most, among the poets of the next generation and every generation since. Matthew Arnold and T. Eliot in England and Robert Frost in America elaborated variously on the conversational convention. Wordsworth made the conversation poem the vehicle of his celebration of enlightenment values: of nature as spiritual home, of man as the measure of things.
The conviction of a benevolent nature is compromised by mounting fears. In the earlier poems of the kind these are indicated only indirectly. Part of this feeling must have come from the growing hostility of the community in which he was living. Fear of a French invasion was widespread, and the outsiders were suspected of democratic sympathies, even of collusion with the national enemy. For it exposes the deep fears behind the passion for Nature conceived in this way, as an intentional agent and life companion. It is an uncertain performance, rambling and disjointed, yet interesting as a portrait of political conviction under pressure.
Despite the difficulties, this was a time of rare promise for the young writer. While Wordsworth would carry on with the experiment for some ten years after that spring in the Quantocks, his companion in the art was all but finished with it. Reasons for the divergence are bound to be conjectures after the fact, but two at least remain worth considering.
There was room for only one strong voice of this kind. Coleridge was drawn to other roles in any case, and to other causes. Poetry was his means, not his vocation. What was his vocation then? He is usually described as a man of letters—as the prototype of the modern writer who lives from his earnings as journalist, book reviewer, and jack of all literary trades.
Coleridge was provided, quite unexpectedly, a life annuity of pounds sterling by Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood, heirs to the pottery and friends of reliable standing. There were no strings attached. The point was to free him of the routine material difficulties which were already closing in on him from all sides. This was a godsend, but it also put Coleridge on his mettle. For he was now faced with the imperative to choose and define a vocation for himself. Freedom imposes its own obligations, and patronage remains patronage even without the strings.
The imminent departure of the Wordsworths, whose one-year lease at Alfoxden was not renewed in June due to local doubts about their character, precipitated a personal crisis of sorts. The upshot was an extended residence in Germany, separation from family and friends in Nether Stowey, and a change of direction.
Coleridge was drawn to Germany for its literary ferment and new learning. Germany opened doors whose existence he had hardly imagined.
A Note on the Safety of Psychedelics
It was here that he learned the language sufficiently to approach the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, which consumed his thinking from about And it involved him in historical inquiries—on the origin of the free farming class, for example—which he communicated to his correspondents at home. The impression left by his notebooks and letters of this period of residence abroad is of unusual intellectual attentiveness. The intellectual turn is what distinguishes Coleridge from others, including his friends William Hazlitt and Lamb, whose activity as writers in the period was more clearly in the native grain.
Verse and prose did not live separate lives; they were distinctive in means but not different in ends as Coleridge explained them. Both gave scope to the same human understanding. Coleridge rejoined his family in Nether Stowey in midsummer , some time after having returned from Germany.
It was an uncomfortable homecoming on several counts.
- Its A Spring Thing.
- Dennis Sepper, Ph.D. - Philosophy Department - University of Dallas.
- Amy Dekker Talks to God?
- René Descartes;
Wordsworth was soon on his way to Dove Cottage at Grasmere in the remote north country, and Coleridge was not far behind. There was trouble with Southey and a difficult leave taking from Thomas Poole. On his way north he tarried in London as political correspondent for the Morning Post , writing a brilliant piece on Pitt, the prime minister, showing what his own convictions counted for.
His Essays on His Own Times , collected long after in three volumes, show how serious and capable a critic of society he was.
- Aristotelian Proportioned Images and Descartes’s Dynamic Imagining?
- Scientific Method (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
- Deadly Intentions (Dafina Books Romantic Suspense);
- The Complete Golfer.
- The depiction of women in Sandra Cisneros novel The House On Mango Street.
- The Reason of Images!
- Heart of Danger (Special Ops Book 1).
The promotion of his most personal and individualistic work by later readers has obscured his constant attention to social arrangements and social ideals. His move to Keswick in summer not long before the birth of his third son, Derwent, on 14 September represented a kind of retreat from the discouraging world of city politics and city life. He came to feel that he was not a poet; not a great poet, at least not like Wordsworth.
This is his magisterial conversation poem, the most compelling though not the most celebrated achievement of his foreshortened poetic career. Coleridge was now on his own as never before, unsettled, constantly ill, searching for a way through his difficulties. It was refined but not fundamentally altered by subsequent reflection and formulation.