Samuel Taylor Coleridge • His poems are full of vague symbolism and supernatural phenomena, seldom touching the relationships in the human world.
I. A brief biography • Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, the son of a clergyman. At the age of nine, his father died. One year later he was sent away to school at Christ’s Hospital in London and seldom went back home. He was a lonely, sad and mentally precocious boy, full of dreams in his mind. However, he found the school an excellent one, for it grace
I. A brief biography • him the intellectual nurture he needed, as well as a lifelong friend, Charles Lamb. But the university. But the university life at Cambridge bored him. He fell into idleness, had trouble with his instructor, and got into debt. In despair, he betook himself to London and enlisted in the 15th Dragoon, but was discharged after a few months and returned to Cambridge, where
He finished his study however, but left without a degree. Inspired by the redical thinkers with their idealism, Coleridge joined Robert Southey in a utopian plan of establishing an ideal democratic community in America, named “Pantisocracy.” The plan resulted in nothing but his marriage to Sara Fricker, which turned out to be an unhappy one.
In the spring of 1797, Coleriage met and began his long friendship with William Wordsworth. Falling under Wordsworth’s spell, Coleridge creative energies were awakened and he began to devote himself to poetry writing. In 1798, the two men published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, which became a landmark in English poetry. Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” was included in the volume.
The year 1797 and 1798 were among the more fruitful of Coleridge’s life. In addition to “The Ancient Mariner,” he wrote “Kubla Khan,” began writing “Christabel,” and composed “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,”“Frost at Midnight,” and “The Nightingale,” which are considered to be his best “conversational” poems.
In 1798, he traveled with the Wordsworth to Germany wherehe spent much of his time studying German philosophy, especially he 18th-century idealism of Immanuel Kant. After he returned to England in 1800, Coleridge settled with his family at Keswick in the lake District near Wordsworth. By this time Coleridge had become addicted to opium, a drug he used to ease the pain of rheumatism, which gradually destroyed his health, happiness and poetic creativity. In his "Dejection, an Ode," he lamented over his declining spirit of imagination. Coleridge spent two years in Malta in order to re store his health
but failed. Back to London, he began to give his famous series of lectures on literature and philosophy; the lectures on Shakespeare were particularly successful. Coleridge quarreled seriously with Wordsworth in 1810. Although they reconciled with each other later on, their friendship had never reached its former intimacy. In 1813, his tragic drama Remorse received popular welcome.In 1816 Coleridge, still addicted to opium and now estranged from his family,
took residence in the London home of an admirer, the physician James Gillman. There he wrote his major prose work, Biographia Literaria (1817), a series of autobiographical notes and dissertations on many subjects, including some brilliantly perceptive literary criticism. The sections in which he expresses his views on the nature of poetry and discusses the works of Wordsworth are especially notable.
II Point of view • Philosophically and critically, Coleridge opposed the limitedly rationalistic trends of the 18th-century thought. He courageously stemmed the tide of the prevailing doctrines derived from Hume and Hartley, advocating a more spiritual and religious interpretation of life, based on what he had learnt from Kant and Schelling. He believed that art is the only permanent revelation of the nature of reality.
A poet should realize the vague intimations derived from his unconsciousness without sacrificing the vitality of the inspiration. Politically, Coleridge was first an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution. He even designed his "Pantisocracy as a society where everyone would be equal to anyone else. But in his later period,
he was a fiery foe of the rights of man, of Jacobinism. He insisted that a government should be based upon the will of the propertied classes only, and should impose itself upon the rest of the community from above.
III. Literary creation • Coleridge's actual achievement as poet can be divided into two remarkably diverse groups: the demonic and the conversational. • The demonic group includes his three masterpieces: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “Christabel” and “Kubla Khan.” Mysticism and demonism with strong imagination are the distinctive features of this group. The poems are set in a strange territory of the poet's memory and dream, where events are reigned beyond
the control of reason. Unifying the group is a magical quest pattern which intends as its goal to reconcile the poet's self-consciousness with a higher order of being associated with divine forgiveness. • Among the conversational group, "Frost at Midnight" is the most important. "Dejection: An Ode" is also an intimate personal piece in which Coleridge utters his innermost thoughts and sentiments. Generally, the conversational group speaks more directly of an allied theme: the desire to go home, not to the past, but to what Hart Crane beautifully called "an improved infancy."
IV View on Language • Coleridge is one of the first critics to give close critical attention to language, maintaining that the true end of poetry is to give plea sure "through the medium of beauty." The chapters of great importance in Biographia Literaria are his comments on Wordsworth's theory of poetic style. He sings highly Wordsworth's "purity of language," "deep and subtle thoughts," "perfect truth to
nature" and his "imaginative power." But he denies Wordsworth's claim that there is no essential difference between the language of poetry and the language spoken by common people. In analyzing Shakespeare, Coleridge emphasizes the philosophic aspect, reading more into the subject than the text and going deeper into the inner reality than only learing for the outer form.
Translation • 忽必列汗在上都曾经 下令造一座堂皇的安乐殿堂： 这地方有圣河亚佛流奔， 穿过深不可测的洞门， 直流入不见阳光的海洋。有方圆五英里肥沃的土壤，四周给围上楼塔和城墙：那里有花园，蜿蜒的溪河在其间闪耀，园里树枝上鲜花盛开，一片芬芳；这里有森林，跟山峦同样古老，围住了洒满阳光的一块块青草草场。
安乐的宫殿有倒影 宛在水波的中央漂动； 这儿能听见和谐的音韵 来自那地泉和那岩洞。这是个奇迹呀，算得是稀有的技巧，阳光灿烂的安乐宫，连同那雪窟冰窖！ • 有一回我在幻象中见到 一个手拿德西马琴的姑娘： 那是个阿比西尼亚少女， 在她的琴上她奏出乐曲， 歌唱着阿伯若山。
Theme • To tell the readers the images of the river, of the magnificent palace and other marvelous scenes deposited in his unconsciousness when he dreamed in the sleep after taking the opium to relieve the pain from his rheumatism.
Structure • Lines 1-11 the description of scenes or site of the summer palace he saw in his dream. • 12-30 How the river starts and appears, focusing on the description of the “deep romantic chasm” to create the effect of mystery and fantastic (wild and strange) power of nature. • 31-36 stress again the fantastic scene of the summer palace. With words of motion and sound, “a miracle of rare device” comes to the reader’s mind.
structure • 37-54 the emotion and imagination. Inspired by the music made by the Abyssinian girl, the poet tries to built the palace in his imagination and put it down on the paper, so that the reader will share his imagination while reading the poem. A poet, like a magician, could create wonders with his imagination or inspiration given by the gods of muse, that is the “milk of Paradise”.
Form • The poem is written in lines of irregular lengths varying from 3-foot iambic to iambic pentameter, with occasional feminine endings. The rhymes are also arranged haphazardly (accidentally) • feminine endings: When the rhyming sounds involve two or more syllables, it is called feminine rhyme. For example, "spitefully" and "delightfully."
Rhyme • When the rhyming sounds involve only one syllable, it is called masculine rhyme. For example, "cold" and "bold." • Rhyme is the repetition of the stressed vowel sound and all succeeding sounds. • If the one or both rhyming words are within the line, it is called internal rhyme. For example, "the grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother."
Rhyme • If the both rhyming words occur at the ends of lines, it is called end rhyme. For example, "Three poets, in three distant ages born, /Greece, Italy, and England did adorn." End rhyme is the commonest and most consciously sought-after sound repetition in English poetry.
Rhyme • Half rhyme is the feminine rhymes that do not rhyme completely. For example, "frightful" and "slightly, ""yellow" and "pillow." Half rhyme is called by others "near rhyme," "oblique rhyme," or "slant rhyme." • Eye rhyme is formed by words that look like a rhymed unit but do not have the same sounds. For example, "home" and "some", "hear" and "bear."
Rhyme • Rhyme scheme is the pattern of alternating end rhymes in a stanza or poem. In analysis of a rhyme scheme, each rhyme is represented by a small letter, thus a rhyme scheme looks like "ababcc."