The University of Toronto at Scarborough

ENGB02Y: English Literature: Historical Survey (SpringTerm)

Instructor: Melba Cuddy-Keane

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Coleridge and Wordsworth collaborated in the volume of poetry entitled Lyrical Ballads, first published in 1798. Coleridge's account of their "division of labour" can be found in Chapter 14 of his BiographiaLiteraria (see page 387 of the Norton Anthology. Although the two poets set themselves different tasks, Wordsworth made some fairly important contributions to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (see note1, p. 330).

Coleridge later separated himself from many of the principles that Wordsworth enunciated in the "Preface to Lyrical Ballads." While Coleridge agreed that poetry should reject the artificial ornamental style of the time and seek instead the "natural language of impassioned feeling" (392), Coleridge rejected Wordsworth's idea that the highest poetic language was the language used by real people in actual conversation.

Coleridge's quarrels with Wordsworth, exacerbated by the agonies and despair brought on by Coleridge's drug addiction to laudanum (taken for pain relief), led to their break in 1810 and their estrangement until their eventual reconciliation in the late 1820s. Despite their disagreements, Coleridge was the "Friend" to whom Wordsworth addressed his autobiographical poem, The Prelude.

In addition to his poetry, Coleridge is important for his philosophical and religious writings and his literary theory and criticism. While he wrote many essays and treatises, he frequently expressed his most fascinating ideas in letters, notebooks, and in the margins of books. These latter are published as his Marginalia.

"TheRime of the Ancient Mariner"

These notes are intended for the use of students in a lecture course; for any other use, please acknowledge this site.


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