S. T. Coleridge as Poet of Imagination
Imagination is the main power of a poet. As Aristotle has said that the main purpose of the poet is to imitate things while using his imaginative powers. No one can challenge the vision of an artist especially if he is a poet. A poet does not only copy the nature but blends it with his mental thoughts. English literature is full of poets, who are bestowed with this God gifted quality. In my opinions, William Wordsworth and John Keats are greatest among them. Poetry stands on the basis of imagination and if a poet lacks the same, he cannot write good poetry. As Swinburne says that the highest lyric work is either passionate or imaginative. As regards the imagination of S. T. Coleridge, he has wonderful hallucination. His mind has an ability to capture such scenes, which even does not exist in the real world. Of course, I am referring here his skilful usage of supernaturalism. Every poem of this great poet is evident that he has good eyesight. He does not only imagine things but also has skills to convert them into words so that his readers can also imagine the same they way he is imagining. Swinburne appreciates the fancy of S.T. Coleridge and says: “Of passion Coleridge has nothing but for height and perfection of imaginative quality…This is his special power and this is his special praise.” Indeed, Coleridge’s work is commendable because of his incredible power of renovating tiny incidents and making them extraordinarily impressive.
“Rime of Ancient Mariner” is one of the best poems from his work. We can witness the remarkable imagination of Coleridge in this poem. Apparently, it is just a story of a mariner, who has committed a sin but the poem leaves high influence on readers’ mind. Its scenery, characters, incidents, landscapes and imagery are totally creative. Similarly, some other poems of the poets for instance, “Kubla Khan” and “Christabel” are praiseworthy. These poems also reveal that the poet has good vision and talent to clearly demonstrate his imagination in a single poem. Like a true painter, he first imagines the whole scene and then creates a picture from it. The only difference is that painter paints it on the canvas, whereas Coleridge creates pen picture of the same. “Dejection” is also relevant in this regard. In this poem, the poet has said that he is going to lose his power of imagination yet we can find no clue about it. It has been brilliantly written by the poet and leaves no sign, through which we can judge that the poet has lost his poetic faculty. Coleridge has capacity to produce images, ideas and sensations in the mind without any immediate input of the senses. It is the only reason that he is being read even today.
Every romantic poet has good imagination. Like other poets, S. T. Coleridge has also been considered a romantic poet. Romantic poetry it the quality of imagination and this quality is seen as a kind of atmosphere, which adds strangeness to beauty. When the imagination meets the wonders of beauty, it creates elements of romance due to which poetry becomes emotional. The poem “Kubla Khan” is worth mentioning here. It is a poem, which is nothing but a successful presentation of a dream. The poet captures a scene and illustrates it in shape of a poem. S. T. Coleridge is not a realist; he does not discuss reality but creates illusions for the readers in every poem, therefore, his poems are full of mysteries. Dawson writes about imagination of S. T. Coleridge:-
“It is in the world of pure imagination he is most at home, and it is there he attains his highest literary excellence. In delicate and airy fancy, not less than in imaginative intensity, he has few rivals. Such a poem as Kubla Khan, a mere dream within a dream, may illustrate the one, and The Ancient Mariner the other.”
In addition to romantic poetry, S. T. Coleridge has another feature i.e. escapism. The poet goes far away from the real world; he creates his own world from imagination, wherein he forgets every problem. He escapes from harsh realities of life and feels pleasure in his dream.
In English Literature, S. T. Coleridge has his own importance. His recognition is his power of dealing with the supernaturalism. He adds supernatural elements in his poetry. Hardly, any poem is found, in which the poet has not mixed the supernatural elements. He does not only have a good imagination but also have superfluous powers to go beyond the nature. “Rim of Ancient Mariner”, if has been become famous, it is due to the mixed elements of naturalism and supernaturalism. There is always a mystery in the poems of S.T. Coleridge, which is revealed at the end of the poem. Coleridge expresses human psyche through supernaturalism. “The Rime of Ancient Mariner”, “Christabel” and “Kubla Khan” are the best examples in this context. His imagination is strong but when he mixes supernatural elements in it, his poem become interesting for the readers but he does not go too away from reality; he does not create a utopian world. His achievement as an imaginative poet is cause of his fame in English Literature. Dawson also makes remarks on the skills of the poet regarding supernaturalism and imagination:
“Coleridge has an extraordinary power of interpreting the supernatural, the night side of Nature, that weird, subtle, spiritual, undercurrent of life which invests with mysterious significance this hard outer world. In doing this he has done superbly what no other has attempted with more than partial success. He possesses force of imagination and felicity of epithet, and each in an extraordinary degree.”
Thus, S. T. Coleridge is definitely the “poet of imagination”. He takes help from his visualization while writing poems. He is not realist like Geoffrey Chaucer; he belongs to poet of movements. Moreover, when he realizes that he is going to lose his imaginative powers, he laments on the moment. In “Dejection”, he surprises the readers while saying that he has lost his mental vision but his poems does not aid him in this context; the poem is highly imaginative and perplexes the readers; it raises question on the minds of readers that whether to trust the poet or not. Furthermore, supernatural elements are not accepted by the nature because they directly come from the dreams; they can only be created if a poet has good imagination. In case of S. T. Coleridge, his supernatural elements are believable and do not astonish the readers. Readers happily believe the incidents even knowing that they are not acceptable by nature. The reason behind it is that the poet has persuasive quality to express his imagination in words.