Nether Stowey: Coleridge, and Wordsworth | Words for Sam
An illustrated timeline marking significant events in the life of Samuel Taylor after Southey withdraws; first meeting with William Wordsworth (September) at the. Coleridge Was Wordsworth's Albatross gravel walk, or in some spot where the continuity of his verse met with no collateral interruption. Among the poets: Ralph Waldo Emerson meets Wordsworth and Coleridge. By Chris Townsend In , the philosopher and poet Ralph.
First, some experience triggers a transcendent moment, an instance of the sublime.
When Coleridge met Wordsworth
It is necessary for the poet to have a certain personal distance from the event or experience being described that he can compose a poem that conveys to the reader the same experience of sublimity. He uses the language and subjects of the common man to convey his ideas. Coleridge did not agree that poetry is the language of the common man.
He thought that lowering diction and content simply made it so that the poet had a smaller vocabulary of both words and concepts to draw from.
Coleridge focused mainly on imagination as the key to poetry. He divided imagination into two main components: The primary imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite of the eternal act of creation of the infinite I AM.
The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, coexisting with the conscious will, yet still identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation.
The primary imagination is a spontaneous creation of new ideas, and they are expressed perfectly. The secondary imagination is mitigated by the conscious act of imagination; therefore, it is hindered by not only imperfect creation, but also by imperfect expression. To further subdivide the act of imagination, Coleridge introduces his concept of fancy. With fancy there is no creation involved; it is simply a reconfiguration of existing ideas.
Rather than composing a completely original concept or description, the fanciful poet simply reorders concepts, putting them in a new and, possibly, fresh relationship to each other.
Through juxtaposition ideas, concepts, and descriptions are made clear. The more imaginative the juxtaposition is, the more exciting the poem becomes. As with Wordsworth, Coleridge also combines his theoretical ideas in his poetry.
While he still holds a reverence for Nature inherent to romantic literature, his poems are not exclusively based around the natural. He makes use of primary imagination in his work, because it is the kind of imagination he values most, and avoids secondary imagination or fancy as much as possible.
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.
All the furnishings in the cottage are replicas of the furniture Coleridge and Sara would have had. When they left Nether Stowey, Coleridge stripped the cottage bare.
He took every last little thing with him. His work as a pastor in a prominent Boston church suffered: Disillusioned, he could no longer find the strength or conviction to continue with his pastoral commitments, and found himself temporarily resigned from both work and faith. He was fast approaching his thirtieth birthday, and had not yet embarked on the life of letters and lectures for which we now remember him.
Emerson was without love, employment, religious conviction, or a true sense of purpose. In need of distraction, and finding no good reason to remain rooted in New England, Emerson spontaneously turned his attention to Old England: Already he had taken a great interest in poetry and philosophy, though at that point he had written little of great merit.
But his interests had guided him to Europe and to British Romanticism, to Wordsworth and to Coleridge. By earlythe year in which Emerson arrived in England, Wordsworth and Coleridge were already well established as poets and thinkers, and were celebrated members of the British literary scene.
The two had lived in close company over thirty years prior, first as neighbours in Nether Stowey in Somerset, next in neighbouring villages in the Lake District. It was in Somerset that they had collaborated on their great joint work, the Lyrical Ballads of But, byWordsworth and Coleridge were changed men. They had all but fallen out of contact, and the idyllic life of a poet amongst nature was over for Coleridge, who had long since moved to London.
After the early days with Wordsworth, he had suffered ongoing battles with opium addiction, weight gain and loss, unhappy marriage, unrequited love, the death of a child, and near-intolerable depression. He was publishing much, though his work was met with tepid reviews, and he would never fully recapture the glory of the period. He had lived in London for much of his life after the early years of the nineteenth century, which was when his relationship with Wordsworth had first begun to sour.
The Wordsworths felt Coleridge was neglecting his responsibilities as husband and father, and saw that he was growing increasingly selfish.
Among the poets: Ralph Waldo Emerson meets Wordsworth and Coleridge - Wordsworth Trust
Though they would be reconciled some years later and would go on to speak of each other with some affection, their friendship never regained its former profound closeness. Wordsworth, though, was still living amongst the Lakes when Emerson came to call, but his life was also very different to the productive younger years.
Forced by the need to provide for his family, he was now working as the distributor of stamps for the Penrith area of the Lakes. In honoured poverty thy voice did weave Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,— Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve, Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.
Both poets were, by s, tamer beasts than their younger, wilder selves. Their political radicalism was behind them, their experiments in poetic language displaced by more formal voices, their mystical relationship with divinity replaced by an orthodox adherence to Christianity.
In short, they had become Victorian poets. Emerson, seasick and sorrowful aboard his creaking vessel, arrived in Valetta in Malta with some relief, in early February, Immediately he began to feel the removal of a weight from his spirit, as things brightened for him in the southern European climes. From Malta he wound slowly on to Sicily, up through mainland Italy, and on through France. He journeyed slowly, savouring the delights and delicacies of the continent, but always kept on the horizon the idea of Great Britain.
His only real reason for staying in the city was to visit Coleridge, which he wasted no time in doing. On the 5th of August he arrived at the Grove, Highgate, and made arrangements to meet with the great poet.
Hauling himself up to the second floor, Emerson entered and found Coleridge in a cramped apartment, overflowing with papers and books, and littered with letters and manuscripts. There was a single window that overlooked Hampstead Heath, a framed version of the wild and endless landscape that had coloured his youthful writings.
Emerson reports a lengthy and roaming discussion of the Unitarian faith by his host, but details quickly become scant. Emerson was finding it increasingly difficult to hold on to the disparate threads of conversation offered by Coleridge, who all the while was wildly gesticulating and animatedly expounding his views. Coleridge talks, and then talks some more, and, when Emerson rises to leave, he begins to recite some lines of his verse, before once again talking.
In doing so, he liberally powders his clothing and apparently spoils a good cravat, generating a cloud of the stuff about himself like pepper around the cook in Alice in Wonderland, like a cloud of his own thick and obfuscatory conversation. This seems true of the Coleridge that Emerson met.
Stepping back out into the cool London afternoon, sooner than he might have hoped, he finds himself a little disappointed. His encounter with Wordsworth would prove a little more satisfying, beyond mere curiosity, and it apparently spanned several hours. From Scotland, Emerson travelled south once again towards Rydal Mount in the Lake District, where Wordsworth had been living with his family for more than twenty years.
John, Dora, and William though it is often forgotten that another child survived, a daughter from a youthful fling in France to whom Wordsworth was still sending a yearly allowance.