S. T. Coleridge as Romantic Poet
S. T. Coleridge along with Wordsworth is the pioneer of romantic poetry. Poetry of reason had limited scope and it could not appeal the readers. It was rough and hard to digest. Moreover, it was not poetry for poetry sake but poetry for moral purposes. Neo-Classical poets conveyed messages and reformed the people through moral lessons, therefore, it poetry did not touch the senses but give messages to readers. Romantic poetry on the other hand is the poetry of senses. It always effects on the minds. It is not boring and people find pleasure in it. Poetry for poetry sake is its purpose. Even if it is done for moral purposes, it appeals the readers. Shelly’s example is in front of us. John Keats is the last romantic poet but he is the best. He has shown the world a better way to write poetry. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is also famous for writing romantic poetry. Publication of “Lyrical Ballades, 1798” is an example of it. He is friend to William Wordsworth, who is known as best romantic/natural poet of his era because of his love for nature. S. T. Coleridge has been greatly influenced by Wordsworth; in fact, it is said that Wordsworth has helped him in writing poetry. Thus, S. T. Coleridge has made his name and gotten fame due to romantic poetry. Not only the supernatural elements are flawless but romantic elements too make him a good poet of his era. Although he cannot surpass John Keats yet he has good imagination, love for nature, sense, delightful colour and technique of supernaturalism to write romantic poetry.
Love for nature is the necessary ingredients of romantic poetry. S. T. Coleridge has good observation and sense of feeling. He does not only observe nature but also feels it. He knows how to describe every object. Sometimes, nature becomes character in his poetry. Reader always finds pleasure while reading his poems. A lot of examples can be found where he has described the mysterious nature. He does not only love the external beauty of nature but sees deep down and reveals truths related to it. Earlier writers also used landscape images and natural elements in their poetry but they only used it where they find it necessary. In case of S. T. Coleridge, he praises nature in every poem unnecessarily. He loves landscapes, sceneries, countryside images, rivers, forests and plants. He finds beauty in them and mentions it in his poetry. Minute observation helps him in this regard. He has a perception of his own, therefore, nature is mysterious for him. Moreover, he does not find any flaw in nature instead nature is helpful for him. He admires its beauty. Sometimes he exaggerates it but not to the extent that it becomes unbelievable for the readers. He has a good sense of colour. Every colour leaves impact on his senses. It is not wrong to say that he has God gifted quality to see nature and explore it. Louis Cazamian, a French critic, comments on the romantic poetry of S. T. Coleridge:-
“he reaps a richer harvest through the senses than Wordsworth. His senses invest his impressions of nature with an extraordinary freshness and splendor, ant at the same time with a shrewd and minute precision which reveals the analytical mind.”
Indeed, S. T. Coleridge has wide variety of natural elements to discuss in his poetry. Love for nature is essential for every romantic poet. Coleridge being romantic poet is lover of nature, which makes him a good romantic poet of his era.
Imagination is also an important element of romantic poetry. Undoubtedly, S. T. Coleridge’s imagination is remarkable. He knows how to deal with it. He illustrates nature images in his poetry but they came directly from his imagination. He is a true artist and a good imitator, therefore, every object first goes into his mind; he paints it; adds freshness to it and then put it in front of his readers. His imagination is strong. When he realizes that his imagination is fading day by day, he laments and cries. “Dejection” is an example of it. Moreover, only imagination does not give him fame but supernaturalism also helps him in this regard. Mixture of supernaturalism with natural elements separates him from common writers. He sees beyond the physics, which ordinary poets cannot see. He blends natural and supernatural elements; this technique makes his poems interesting for the readers. Exaggeration is always there but readers still believe in it. “Rime of Ancient Mariner” is helpful in this context, which is based on supernaturalism.
S. T. Coleridge, like John Keats, loves to escape from this cruel life. He finds pleasure in imaginary world. Keats wants to forget the worries of life but S. T. Coleridge wants to find both peace and pleasure, therefore, escapism is an option for him. Of course, escapism is possible only if one has good sense of imagination. “Kubla Khan” is a poem, which is entirely based on imagination. The poet escapes from real world and creates an imaginary world, in which he enjoys the luxuries of life. Thus, due to strong imagination, S. T. Coleridge escapes from this world and find pleasure in imagination. It is also a factor which makes him a good romantic poet.
He also praises beauty. He finds beauty in nature, in men, in birds and in plants. When a mariner kills a bird, he cannot tolerate it and requited him. Romantic poets do not seek a perfect world. They can find beauty in everything; therefore, every single thing becomes perfect for them.
Romantic poets write melancholy notes. When something bad happens to them, they cry and lament on the moment. Love for past makes them nostalgic. If they miss someone, they do poetry and express their pains through words. They express their sheer sadness when they loss something. In case of John Keats, he has written “Ode to Melancholy”, whereas, S. T. Coleridge has written “Ode to Dejection”. Hence, this important factor also makes S. T. Coleridge a famous romantic writer.
To cut short, S. T. Coleridge has every element in his poetry, which is required to be a romantic poet. Being close friend to Wordsworth, he loves to write romantic poetry. He is the one, who prefers to write on general subject of romanticism rather than the poetry of reason. There may be differences in the style but romantic elements are common among all romantic poets. S. T. Coleridge may be different in many aspects but he is definitely a romantic poet. He will be remembered because of his contribution to romantic poetry. Love for beauty, strong imagination, appreciation of beauty, hotchpotch of natural and supernatural elements, love for nature and love for past make S. T. Coleridge a good romantic poet.