Coleridge and his relationship with nature

coleridge and his relationship with nature

Throughout this poem Coleridge "speaks to his wife" (Wayne 73) showing his undying love for Sara in relation with nature. "The Aeolian Harp" is definitely a. Relation of Descriptions to Nature in Coleridge's Poetry Coleridge, like many other romantic writers of his time such as Wordsworth, demonstrated through his . This study demonstrates the vital relationship between Coleridge and nature at the Coleridge's views about the poet's creativity and its relation to nature are.

With such a genius, for example, Shakespeare 'became Othello and spoke as Othello would have spoken' Lectures1: Such a poet is naturally 'universal', and, like Arnold's Wordsworth, has 'no manner' Table Talk2: Shakespeare, of course, has always been celebrated for being the poet of nature, for the startling kinship of his art to nature itself Dryden's praise - 'when he describes any thing, you more than see it, you feel it too' ; and, despite his idealist inclinations, Coleridge is no exception to this tradition of realist praise.

Indeed his claims for Shakespeare's recreative mimetic powers are more extravagant even than most - despite this involving him in all kinds of theoretical gymnastics when he tries to reconcile it with the ideal bias of his 'Miltonic' enthusiasm: These paired, opposed versions of the poetic genius lead a various life in Coleridge's writings, and moral approval shifts about the terms accordingly, from idealist self-creation to realist sympathy, from Miltonic autonomy to Shakespearean sensibility, from male egotism to feminine selflessness, and back again, and again, from page to page of his works.

Eliot to attack Milton. By the time we reach Eliot, Coleridge's fluid and shifting valuations of the different positions have hardened into a simple dislike of Milton's ideal, 'literary' or 'poetical' sovereignty; but the positions themselves remain thoroughly Coleridgean.

And it is here, I think, in this provision of opposites, that we should locate the continuity of a Coleridgean tradition. The New Anti-Romanticism perhaps [some works] are all the better for not being imaginative, for not being literature - they are not literature, they are reality, and in a time like this what we need is reality in large doses. LIONEL TRILLING If we can trace the rhetoric of Leavis's anti-romanticism back to the metaphors and associated preoccupations of Wordsworth and Coleridge, then we can also trace them forward into the work of the modern anti-romanticists, who similarly base their writings on the notion of a restorative return to the concrete.

To take some swift examples: These assessments of failure imply that the historicist's perfectly anti-romantic poem would be the text which somehow embodied the very texture of its moment's history: Such art would be the work of a magically responsive realism, a triumph of always-natural art - precisely analogous, in fact, to the art Coleridge imagines for Bowles or Shakespeare: Where, on earth, might we look for such a poem?

McGann once singled out for praise Crabbe's 'human, non-transcendent approach', and made his poetry sound altogether what every anti-romantic materialist would want - 'time- and place- specific', full of 'illustrative' stories, illuminating 'social, psychological, and historical' 'problems' and so forth - but no surge of interest in Crabbe followed, not even, as far as one can see, in McGann himself.

It is not just that the whole method happens to be better in attack; it is rather that it has no positive voice, and can have none: Nature, in the guise of 'History', has still not taken the poet's pen. This seems a simple-minded way of putting it, but, despite its often sophisticated general accounts of hermeneutic intricacy, 'History' is customarily introduced by historicist anti-romanticism in a much more bluntly positivist spirit. The desire to gain what Lentricchia calls 'direct access to history's gritty ground-level texture' Veeser, tips Leavis's poised distrust of the merely 'poetic' into a of creativity and its politics per se.

This seems an after-effect of one kind of Marxism; though not, one might add, a necessary effect. My point here is that this dream, like its 'romantic' opponent, recognisably exists within a Coleridgean inheritance, formed about a division between idealist and realist aesthetic orientations: If any praise is to be offered of the ideal counter-aesthetic, it inevitably sounds dutiful, as if making polite noises about the craftiness of an opponent: The brilliance can only be in the form of dazzling sophistication, like Satan's in Paradise Lost.

But if one cannot reasonably hope to encounter the perfectly realist text, then one might at least look forward to the historicist perfection of the texts we have. This perfection would explain what appears to be the text's self-sustaining, ideal Coleridgean existence as in fact the product of its determining historical occasion, revealing poetic inevitability to be actually the mystified form of contingency; the spuriously autonomous text would be forced, under historicist pressure, to come clean about its secret relationships with the external world.

The critic has now assumed the adversarial task of, as Levinson puts it, 'locat[ing] the body': For 'History' features in romantic poetry only by its pretended absence, by tell-tale bumps of the body in the would-be 'literary', 'idealist' text: The Sense of History repeats this turn over and over again: The rhetoric of a restoration to the concrete is recognisably a version of Coleridge's return to the authentically substantial and natural: The very mode of existence of a literary work has by now become a species of false consciousness, for it comes into being in the first place only as a kind of misperception of its historical occasion, seeking to be, like Coleridge's Quixote, 'an unlimited monarch over the creations of [its] fancy' Lectures2: But once the actual historical implication of the work is revealed, the work, as a work of art 'poetry as poetry'disappears into the seamless continuity of the History which in fact provoked it: By retrospective critical intervention, 'History' reclaims the pen and writes or implies the poem that would have been written had the odd superfluity of consciousness not interfered.

Perfected, the work then leaves the mystified category of the 'literary' behind, just as the idealist consciousness finds itself returned to the material actuality of impersonal forces; and, like the poems of Coleridge's Bowles or Shakespeare, returns to the proper plenitude of the externally real. The poem is thus restored to its vital identity with what is really important, the non-literary; and, relieved, the critic may say to the redeemed poem, as Bob Dylan once put it, 'You're invisible now, you've got no secrets to conceal'.

And where does this leave us? To establish a parallel between the historicists' return from shadowy illusion to natural substance, and Coleridge's, may be surprising; but it is not valid to go on then to say that the historicists are therefore really 'romantic' all along, as if blowing their alibi: The important point lies elsewhere: For the historicists, as Liu proclaims, '[t]here is no nature' Liu, 38 ; but, although the historicists are keen to stress the de-naturalising intent of their work, their 'History' actually keeps the important attributes of the 'nature' it replaces.

Coleridge, the Return to Nature, and the New An – Romanticism on the Net – Érudit

Like Nature, 'History' brings relief: Like Hume's resort to nature, this is actually a determination not to worry about the problems, rather than their solution, a frame of mind which Brook Thomas has satirically diagnosed as 'How I learned to stop worrying about theory by forgetting about it' Veeser, But this is not the only reason why an historicist version of anti-romanticism has become so popular: Without a Marxist confidence to know what is and is not self-evidently significant as 'history', the problem of relevance will properly remain insoluble because context is, logically, endless really, universally, relations stop nowhere ; and the 'readings' it allows may be quite as indeterminately various as those of the most unrooted of formalists.

It insists on 'a material reality in relation to which texts are secondary' as Stanley Fish finds in Jon Klancher: Veeser, ; but the 'materiality' of this 'history', its 'concreteness', the 'groundedness' it offers, its ability to 'place' the text, are all wholly rhetorical. This latest anti-romantic exploitation of the Coleridgean idiom, one sometimes suspects, allows all the firm-mindedness of Marx's 'materialism' without any of the nuisance of having to believe in what Marx actually said.

Coleridge has a comprehensive intellectual virtue, and says many things about Shakespeare, by no means all of them develop or depend upon the enabling critical mythology of his super-realism: One can only say 'It's like Nature' so many times, as Ruskin found too; and the praise is self-defeating anyway, since, if an art-work is good because it is rather like Nature, it can never be as exactly like it as Nature is.

The new anti-romantics are typically much more single-minded than Coleridge, and find things to say by describing the ways in which poems fall short of such natural excellence; but, if the merit of any critical method is to be assessed by the intricacy of the readings it encourages, this one runs a big risk: Ironically, then, the greatest victim of the historicists' committed use of the anti-romantic paradigm may be the very history they are so publicly enthusiastic to save.

The new anti-romanticism tends to delineate the margin between immaterial 'text' and concrete reality by an uncrossable line, defining literariness by opposition; and yet also to deplore the bad ideology that pretends the line is there at all, making it inevitably complicit with the textual metaphysics it exists to deplore.

Coleridge through his experience with nature become almost painfully human

Liu's work, for example, as David Perkins has argued, depends on assuming a positively 'oppositional relation of text to context' Perkins, But to pretend, even if initially for one's own rhetorical self-confidence, that history is somehow as substantial as the stone Dr Johnson kicked can only be misleading: The 'History' which is referred to, appealed to, and returned to, is held to be simply 'self-evident, and need[ing] no elaboration' Young, Well, the only defence can be his self-evidence: I appreciate - and indeed share - the sense of spiritual need secretly motivating such 'materialism'; but surely this is not a very subtle way of thinking about history and historical sources: It contains an argument without appeal which justifies itself only by its rhetoric's implicit appeal to naturalness.

But, finally, why should there be any general law governing the relationship between 'romantic' poetry and history anyway? Critics are only seduced into positing one, I think, because their language has reified 'History' into something as substantial as a stone and the 'text' into its idealist rival: It seems at least tolerably likely that literary works exist within historical time in rather more complex ways than the antagonistic stand-off suggested by the anti-romantic paradigm can allow, and very possibly in entirely various and quite distinct ways which are the results of authors having different kinds of mind.

There seems no reason why we should expect a general rule; and realising this involves the critic once again in the more-or-less empirical, more-or-less guessing and uncertain evaluation of a writer's psychology or personality, far away from the by definition universal claims of an epistemology.

This need not involve us treating art as simply 'self-expression', whatever that is, for it is not to deny art a kind of autonomy: It merely suggests that art's relations with the world without art are mediated through the contingencies of imaginative individuality which may be deplorable, I do not denyrather than through the universal rules of a general case.

This makes criticism a good deal more interesting to do, in my view, placing on the critic the duty of the balancing act described by T. Eliot a good Coleridgean who sought to maintain the autonomy and disinterestedness of literature, and at the same time to exhibit the relations of literature—not to 'life', as something contrasted to literature, but to all the other activities, which, together with literature, are the components of life.

Appendices Footnotes [1] See, e. Aram Veeser New York: Leavis, The Great Tradition ; repr. Lawrence, Novelist ; repr.

coleridge and his relationship with nature

Tradition and Development in English Poetry ; repr. Leavis, New Bearings in English Poetry. A Study of the Contemporary Situation ; 2nd.

Coleridge as Critic

Hyder Edward Rollins 2 vols. Cambridge University Press, vol. Abrams and Stephen Gill New York: Norton,text, VI: Earl Leslie Griggs, 6 vols. Oxford University Press, vol. Carl Woodring, 2 vols. Routledge and Princeton University Press, vol. Poet and Revolutionary A Critical Biography London: Allen Lane, p. Ernest Hartley Coleridge, 2 vols. Clarendon Press, vol.

coleridge and his relationship with nature

James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate, 2 vols. Bell, Robinson, p. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser, 3 vols. A Critical Anthologyed. Selected Proseed. The Dialectic of Romantic Aesthetics': New Approaches to Texts and Contextsed. Stephen Copley and John Whale London: Glyph Textual Studies 1ed.

Coleridge, Schleiermacher and Romanticismed. Kathleen Coburn, 4 double vols. Routledge and Princeton University Press [vol. The Clark Lectures ; repr. And so I brooded all the following morn, Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye Fixed with mock study on my swimming book: Save if the door half opened, and I snatched A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up, For still I hoped to see the stranger's face, Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved, My playmate when we both were clothed alike!

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side, Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm, Fill up the interspersed vacancies And momentary pauses of the thought! My babe so beautiful! For I was reared In the great city, pent mid cloisters dim, And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars. But thou, my babe!

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee, Whether the summer clothe the general earth With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall Heard only in the trances of the blast, Or if the secret ministry of frost Shall hang them up in silent icicles, Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

The "inmates" of the speaker's cottage are all asleep, and the speaker sits alone, solitary except for the "cradled infant" sleeping by his side.

He enjoys the thought that although he himself was raised in the "great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim," his child will wander in the rural countryside, by lakes and shores and mountains, and his spirit shall be molded by God, who will "by giving make it [the child] ask. Commentary The speaker of "Frost at Midnight" is generally held to be Coleridge himself, and the poem is a quiet, very personal restatement of the abiding themes of early English Romanticism: However, while the poem conforms to many of the guiding principles of Romanticism, it also highlights a key difference between Coleridge and his fellow Romantics, specifically Wordsworth.

Wordsworth, raised in the rustic countryside, saw his own childhood as a time when his connection with the natural world was at its greatest; he revisited his memories of childhood in order to soothe his feelings and provoke his imagination.