Notes on Samuel Coleridge


  • more supernatural, religious
    • Christian symbolism
    • Gothic imagery (excess, imaginative flights)
  • competing emotions
    • complexity between the good and bad
    • Christianity made people aware of the duality within themselves
      • an avenue to discuss the dichotomy
    • transitions between good and bad
  • struggle between good and evil
    • stymied him rather than made him productive (counter to some philosophers’ beliefs)
  • is his turbulent personal life one of sympathy/empathy?
    • melodramatic
    • an ever-present struggle with duality and reality
    • vulnerability in describing this, depressive
  • opium addiction
    • failure of the body but the mind remains
      • initially took it for pain
    • perhaps jealous of Wordsworth, upset that he couldn’t do more

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

  • sound pattern
    • detracts from message because of its beauty?
  • notes/summaries of lines
    • Coleridge wanted the notes printed
    • lack of trust in reader? more accessibility? intrusive/pulling you out of the poem?
      • “showing” in the poem, “telling” in the notes
      • like stage directions?
    • a third narrator?
      • goes back to intrusive perhaps
      • reminiscent of a Greek chorus?
      • creates a depth of perspective?
    • was there a pattern?
      • some were useful notes, others not
      • purposeful – draws you out to unsettle you from a pattern/rhythm
  • content of the poem
    • albatross as Christ, as ultimate beauty
    • mariner kills it but the crew dies
      • not like Cain, the wandering Jew – he is redeemed
      • crew members are worse because they don’t let it go? look at omens and repeatedly flip-flop their opinion of him
    • crew as pieces of the curse, just bodies, just objects
      • no autonomy
    • mariner is redeemed when he recognizes the beauty/blessedness of all animals
      • no real introspection involved, just happens
    • purpose?
      • noticing beauty is enough to save you
        • why didn’t he notice the value of the men of his crew?
    • is the vagueness a positive or negative?

“Dejection: an Ode”

  • depression – especially 6th stanza
    • impression is that he doesn’t even care about not caring
  • written as a response to “Tinturn Abbey”
    • manuscripts sometimes have “William” not Lady
    • not what nature brings to us, but what we have within us (stanza 4)
  • radical (?)
    • strong stance on the effect of depression
      • can’t look at a flower to get better, it’s entirely pervasive
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