Coleridge and Wordsworth

Coleridge and Wordsworth: A Lyrical Dialogue

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 346
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    Coleridge and Wordsworth
    Book Description:

    Paul Magnuson contends that the relationship between Coleridge's and Wordsworth's poetry is so complex that a new criticism is required to trace its intricacies. This book demonstrates that their poems may be read as parts of a single evolving whole, a "dialogue" in which the works of one are responses to and rewritings of those of the other. Professor Magnuson discloses this dialogue as a joint canon, or sequence, which includes the complete early versions of poems, as well as fragments, canceled drafts, and poems in progress. He further shows that this sequence is based on lyric structure: the relations among its poems and fragments resemble those among stanzas in an ode, and individual poems take their significance from their surrounding contexts in the dialogue. Coleridge's and Wordsworth's poetic conversation arose from their recognition that their themes and styles were similar. There were, as one of Coleridge's friends said, "fears of amalgamation," and it was actually from their failed attempts to collaborate on individual works that their dialogue began.

    The first chapter of the book elaborates a dialogic methodology and the following chapters discuss the dialogic relationship between Wordsworth's Salisbury Plain poems and "The Ancient Mariner"; "The Ruined Cottage" and Coleridge's "Christabel"; Coleridge's Conversation Poems and Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey"; Wordsworth's Goslar poetry of 1798, "Home at Grasmere," and Lyrical Ballads (1800); and the dejection dialogue of 1802.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5913-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER 1 “Our Fears about Amalgamation”: An Introduction
    (pp. 3-32)

    Shortly after arriving in Germany in 1798, William and Dorothy Wordsworth separated from Coleridge and began a dreary trip to Goslar, where they spent the winter alone. Coleridge had written to Thomas Poole, his friend and patron, on September 28 that “Wordsworth & his Sister have determined to travel on into Saxony, to seek cheaper places” (STCL1: 419), and Wordsworth himself had informed Poole on October 3 that “we set off this evening by the diligence for Brunswick” (LEY230). Poole responded to Coleridge on October 8: “The Wordsworths have left you—so there is an end to our fears...

  6. CHAPTER 2 First Readings: 1793–1797
    (pp. 33-67)

    The poetic dialogue between Coleridge and Wordsworth began in earnest in the summer of 1797, when Coleridge visited the Wordsworths at Racedown and arranged, through Thomas Poole, to have the Wordsworths take Alfoxden, a manor house near Nether Stowey, where Coleridge and Poole lived. There had been occasional visits and discussions since their first meeting in August or September 1795, but their poetry did not become mutually influential until their close association in the summer of 1797. Wordsworth’s visit to Nether Stowey in the spring of 1797 may have provided him with the opportunity to tell Coleridge about his work...

  7. CHAPTER 3 “My Own Voice”: “The Ancient Mariner” and “The Discharged Soldier”
    (pp. 68-95)

    The mutual admiration that Coleridge and Wordsworth expressed for each others’ poetry led in the fall of 1797 to attempts at collaboration in the writing of “The Ancient Mariner.” Collaboration proved unsuccessful, but in its failure, poetic dialogue began. “The Ancient Mariner” was at first an attempt to produce one work from their combined efforts, but when Coleridge’s imagination was more energetic, the poem became an answer to Wordsworth’s Salisbury Plain poems. It obviously employed elements of “Adventures on Salisbury Plain”: the act of violation or crime by an innocent or unthinking individual who feels himself persecuted, the resulting endless...

  8. CHAPTER 4 “The Colours of our Style”: “The Ruined Cottage” and “Christabel”
    (pp. 96-138)

    Wordsworth’s “The Ruined Cottage,” first drafted in the summer of 1797, his “The Pedlar,” drafted in the late winter and early spring of 1798, and Coleridge’s “Christabel,” begun in April 1798, form a sequence in their dialogue that is parallel to, yet distinct from, that formed by the Salisbury Plain poems, “The Ancient Mariner,” and “The Discharged Soldier.” In “The Ancient Mariner” Coleridge appropriated draft stanzas that Wordsworth continued to revise before they were published as “Guilt and Sorrow” (1842). In “Christabel” he revised and reinterpreted both “The Ruined Cottage” and Wordsworth’s interpretation of it in the Pedlar material and...

  9. CHAPTER 5 “My Genial Spirits”: The Conversation Poems and “Tintern Abbey”
    (pp. 139-176)

    The dialogue in narrative poetry of the Salisbury Plain poems, “The Ancient Mariner,” “The Ruined Cottage,” and “Christabel” moves from social concerns with the causes of poverty and suffering to psychological explanations of evil and guilt. The recurrent interest in the transformation of character from good to evil or from evil to good and the transformation of emotion from fear and terror to hope and joy leads to a poetry that explores the mind and, in the spring of 1798, to a poetry that explores the personal development of a poet. Poetic dialogue is conscious of its own procedures and...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Search for “Perfect Form”: The Goslar Poetry and The Prelude (1799)
    (pp. 177-227)

    Read in the context of “Frost at Midnight” and the Conversation Poems, “Tintern Abbey” is an optimistic affirmation of a continuity of personal growth grounded in nature’s continuous ministry and in the “language of the sense” that is direct and unambiguous. Wordsworth can see “into the life of things.” The seclusion that Coleridge could not completely overcome in “Frost at Midnight” Wordsworth confidently affirms he can overcome by the retention of the natural images associated with his feelings. But read closely in the context of his early work onThe Preludeand the Lucy poems, the calm assurances of “Tintern...

  11. CHAPTER 7 A Farewell to Coleridge: Grasmere, 1800
    (pp. 228-272)

    The final lines ofThe Prelude(1799) bid farewell to Coleridge and allude to “Frost at Midnight”:

    Thou, my friend, wast reared

    In the great city, ’mid far other scenes,

    But we by different roads at length have gained

    The self-same bourne....

    For thou hast sought

    The truth in solitude, and thou art one

    The most intense of Nature’s worshippers,

    In many things my brother, chiefly here

    In this my deep devotion. Fare thee well:

    Health and the quiet of a healthful mind

    Attend thee, seeking oft the haunts of men—

    But yet more often living with thyself,

    And for...

  12. CHAPTER 8 1802: The Dejection Dialogue
    (pp. 273-317)

    Some of Wordsworth’s most optimistic and exulting poetry had been written in the spring of 1800, shortly after he moved into Dove Cottage, but when the gates of spring opened in 1802, the enthusiasm of 1800 had been severely tempered by the struggle he had during the winter of 1801–2 to fulfill the promise of 1800. Perhaps the lyric forms in which he wrote the “Home at Grasmere” fragments permitted or required wild speculation and perhaps his extravagant enthusiasm was more of an expression of his hopes than a sober assessment of his possibilities. At any rate, his prelusive...

  13. CHAPTER 9 “An Ode in Passion Uttered”: Conclusion
    (pp. 318-324)

    When a reader’s initial act is an unbinding of an individual poem from its context and an assumption that the poem is an integral unity, the poem resides in an emptiness in which the richness of allusion appears only as a set of signs without reference. This is true whether an individual poem is removed from a collection or a lyric passage is extracted from a longer work. Individual poems or lyric passages are merely milestones on the Bridgewater road, not the road itself. On the other hand, if poems are read in their contexts, the vacuity created by the...

  14. INDEX
    (pp. 325-330)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-331)