3 : Coleridge in Contrast to William Wordsworth
There are several differences in Coleridge’s poetic style and philosophical views. Coleridge’s poetry differs from that of Wordsworth, and his association with Wordsworth overshadows Coleridge’s individual accomplishments as a Romantic poet. In addition, Coleridge’s poetry complicates experiences that Wordsworth views as very simple and very commonplace. Samuel Taylor Coleridge has a poetic diction unlike that of William Wordsworth, he relies more heavily on imagination for poetic inspiration, and he also incorporates religion into his poetry differently. Coleridge’s different views, combined with his opium addiction, led to an eventual breach in his friendship with Wordsworth – a friendship that had begun in 1797. Coleridge’s different perception of poetry is what sets him aside from Wordsworth. In fact, Coleridge even reflected on the difference between his contributions and those of Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads. He stated, “my endeavors would be directed to persons and characters supernatural – Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was…to give charm of novelty to things of everyday”(Biographia, ch. xiv). Although Coleridge’s retrospective interpretation of this work could be viewed as an overly simplistic division of labor, it nonetheless proves that Coleridge viewed his poetic style as different than that of Wordsworth. Moreover, Coleridge’s retrospective interpretation insinuated that he dealt with complex subject matter (supernatural), while Wordsworth gave the ordinary a revitalizing freshness. Even though they worked together successfully on the publication Lyrical Ballads, Coleridge and Wordsworth clearly had contrasting opinions about “what constituted well written poetry.” Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner uses very deliberate phrases in order to describe images. The descriptions portray a bleak atmosphere with vivid images of the “rotting deck” where “dead men lay”(Romanticism, 530). His lines...
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