Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friendship Between Wordsworth and Coleridge

The Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were close friends who sought to create a new kind of poem centered on emotions and a sort of conversation between the reader and narrator. Even though many of their poems seem to be addressed to women, they "can be read as 'fragments of an agon', moments of an agonizing struggle between two male rivals apparently friends but locked in a secret and mortal combat for the deadly right to be 'the speaker' of 'the word'," (Lauder, 2001, p. 68). To showcase their works and their new theme, they collaborated on a volume of poetry entitled "Lyrical Ballads".

There are connections that can be found between the different works of the two poets, beginning with their vigorous use of nature in an otherworldly context. In his poem "Kubla Khan", Coleridge includes nature to complete the picture of another world, or another part of the world, the East: "And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills/ Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree/ And here were forests ancient as the hills/ Enfolding sunny spots of greenery," (Greenblatt et al, 2006). 

Similarly, but of course in a contrasting way, Wordsworth's view of nature is less exotic and more tangible. In other words, Coleridge's words made nature part of a fantasy world, but Wordsworth's approach was one that the average reader could relate to. For example, in his poem, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,", nature is described simply but still in a way that evokes emotion; "I saw a crowd [...] of golden daffodils/ beside the lake, beneath the trees/ fluttering and dancing in the breeze," (Greenblatt et al, 2006).

One last notable connection between the works of Coleridge and Wordsworth would be their use of "I". By using "I", it is as if they are addressing the reader, or what is, more likely, a character within the poem. It is the "I" that connects the reader deeper with the narrator of the poem, creating the illusion of not just a poem, but a conversation.

Greenblatt, S., et al. (Eds.) (2006). The Norton anthology of English literature (8th ed., Vol.2). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.\

Lauder, B. (2001, Winter). Secret(ing) conversations: coleridge and wordsworth. New Literary History, 32 (1), 67-89. Retrieved from

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