Towards a Romantic Conception of Nature: Coleridge's Poetry up to 1803: A study in the history of ideas (Utrecht Publications in General and Comparative Literature)
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This study describes in detail the development of Coleridge’s attitude to nature as it is reflected in his poetry. It analyses the different stages of Coleridge’s search for a meaningful relation to nature from an uncritical adoption of the eighteenth century conventions in his early poetry to a projectionist view in his poems of 1802. It offers challenging new readings of some of Coleridge’s major poems like ‘The Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Dejection: an Ode’, and tries to rehabilitate some minor ones, like ‘The Picture’. Attention is also paid to his relation with Wordsworth. It discusses in detail the philosophical background of Coleridge’s views and considers the contribution of German thought to his development. As a whole this study affords a new insight into the genesis of romanticism in England.
the basis of comparison between the octave describing an ever increasing delight in nature, and the sestet treating of the acquisition of knowledge is left unspecified. For instance, the connec tion between that curious bliss at death in which the sestet culminates, and the feelings of delight occasioned by a view from a hill is at first sight elusive and obscure. The poet is clearly endeavouring to make a statement about life (or death?) and in order to do this he makes use of an experience he
Gleam'd through thy bright transparence! According to Wimsatt, this detailed account of the river is not only a descrip tion of an actual memory of a scene from the poet's childhood, its minute COLERIDGE'S EARLY POETRY 29 details suggesting the acuteness of his sense of loss, but also a metaphor of the act of remembering itself.5 He asserts that the visions of childhood 'rise like the tinted waters of the stream; they gleam up through the depths of memory ... like the "various dyes" which
And even in 'Pain', a poem describing alienation from nature due to disease, the essentially joyful charac ter of nature is not questioned, Once could the Morn's first beams, the healthful breeze, All Nature charm, and gay was every hour: — But ah! not Music's self, nor fragrant bower Can glad the trembling sense of wan Disease. Nowhere in these poems is it specified why and in what manner nature is associated with joy. It seems to be taken for granted on the basis of experi ence, or, more
only hope that man will make nature divine by the activity of his mind. After this brief consideration of certain key notions in continental philosophy and aesthetics, the question as to the possible influence on Coleridge of German nature poetry remains. Coleridge's remarks and translations suggest that his acquaintance with German poetry was rather limited; only one poet seems to have been studied by him in any detail. 74 This is Friedrich Leopold, count of Stolberg (1750-1819), a member of the
It is a world in which melancholy, despondency, and suicidal inclinations — wishes to become one with the unconscious life of nature — would be expected. Yet since he is making a heroic effort to "quell the master-passion", not to let himself be run away with and determined by his feelings of love and despair, he insists against all odds, all reason, and all nature, that he feels a 'new joy', presumably because this is the solution of the dilemma Wordsworth had suggested. 160 TOWARDS A