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T he very name Samuel Taylor Coleridge seems to reverberate like some mysterious timpani. Those magical titles of his vibrate and echo over an infinite distance: Kubla Khan, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Frost at Midnight … Or for that matter the notorious Person on Business from Porlock. Almost unnecessary, one might think, to turn back to the poems themselves at all (do they still do so in schools?). Those proverbial titles seem to hold all the poetry.

So it easy to forget how strange, how captivating, how haunted Coleridge's actual poems are. Why is it, for example, that so many of them are set at night? Why do their outer landscapes always dissolve into inner dream worlds? Why are they so full of guilt? And yet why are they also so often suffused with beautiful, healing, glimmering moonlight?

One answer to all these questions (especially popular among recent film-makers) has always been drug addiction. Step forward, Coleridge the lyrical smackhead. Coleridge's poems are explained away as forms of drug-induced hallucinations. It is certainly true that Coleridge began taking opium as a schoolboy in London, experimented with it throughout his 20s in the West Country and Germany, and was seriously addicted by the time he settled in the Lake District in 1801 aged 29.

Skuola.net News è una testata giornalistica iscritta al Registro degli Operatori della Comunicazione.
Registrazione: n° 20792 del 23/12/2010
©2000—2018 Skuola Network s.r.l. Tutti i diritti riservati. — P.I. 10404470014

We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.

T he very name Samuel Taylor Coleridge seems to reverberate like some mysterious timpani. Those magical titles of his vibrate and echo over an infinite distance: Kubla Khan, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Frost at Midnight … Or for that matter the notorious Person on Business from Porlock. Almost unnecessary, one might think, to turn back to the poems themselves at all (do they still do so in schools?). Those proverbial titles seem to hold all the poetry.

So it easy to forget how strange, how captivating, how haunted Coleridge's actual poems are. Why is it, for example, that so many of them are set at night? Why do their outer landscapes always dissolve into inner dream worlds? Why are they so full of guilt? And yet why are they also so often suffused with beautiful, healing, glimmering moonlight?

One answer to all these questions (especially popular among recent film-makers) has always been drug addiction. Step forward, Coleridge the lyrical smackhead. Coleridge's poems are explained away as forms of drug-induced hallucinations. It is certainly true that Coleridge began taking opium as a schoolboy in London, experimented with it throughout his 20s in the West Country and Germany, and was seriously addicted by the time he settled in the Lake District in 1801 aged 29.

Throughout his adult life Coleridge had crippling bouts of anxiety and depression; it has been speculated that he had bipolar disorder , which had not been defined during his lifetime. [1] He was physically unhealthy, which may have stemmed from a bout of rheumatic fever and other childhood illnesses. He was treated for these conditions with laudanum , which fostered a lifelong opium addiction.

However, Coleridge seems to have appreciated his teacher, as he wrote in recollections of his school days in Biographia Literaria :

Throughout his life, Coleridge idealised his father as pious and innocent, while his relationship with his mother was more problematic. [ citation needed ] His childhood was characterised by attention seeking, which has been linked to his dependent personality as an adult. [ citation needed ] He was rarely allowed to return home during the school term, and this distance from his family at such a turbulent time proved emotionally damaging. [ citation needed ] He later wrote of his loneliness at school in the poem " Frost at Midnight ": "With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt/Of my sweet birthplace."

His brother Luke died in 1790 and his only sister Ann in 1791, inspiring Col to write "Monody," one of his first poems, in which he likens himself to Thomas Chatterton 3 . Col was very ill around this time and probably took laudanum for the illness, thus beginning his lifelong opium addiction. He went to Cambridge in 1791, poor in spite of some scholarships, and rapidly worked himself into debt with opium, alcohol, and women. He had started to hope for poetic fame, but by 1793, he owed about £150 and was desperate. So he joined the army.

Though he's really only known today for his poetry, Col's contributions to the field of criticism and our language were many. For instance, he not only coined the word 'selfless,' he introduced the word 'aesthetic' to the English language. Charles Lamb wrote one of my favorite descriptions of Col in 1817: "his face when he repeats his verses hath its ancient glory, an Arch angel a little damaged." Cole summed himself up this way, in the epitaph he wrote for himself: Beneath this sod
A Poet lies; or that which once was he.
O lift one thought in prayer for S.T.C.
That he, who many a year with toil of breath,
Found Death in Life, may here find Life in Death.

Skuola.net News è una testata giornalistica iscritta al Registro degli Operatori della Comunicazione.
Registrazione: n° 20792 del 23/12/2010
©2000—2018 Skuola Network s.r.l. Tutti i diritti riservati. — P.I. 10404470014

We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.

Skuola.net News è una testata giornalistica iscritta al Registro degli Operatori della Comunicazione.
Registrazione: n° 20792 del 23/12/2010
©2000—2018 Skuola Network s.r.l. Tutti i diritti riservati. — P.I. 10404470014

Skuola.net News è una testata giornalistica iscritta al Registro degli Operatori della Comunicazione.
Registrazione: n° 20792 del 23/12/2010
©2000—2018 Skuola Network s.r.l. Tutti i diritti riservati. — P.I. 10404470014

We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.

T he very name Samuel Taylor Coleridge seems to reverberate like some mysterious timpani. Those magical titles of his vibrate and echo over an infinite distance: Kubla Khan, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Frost at Midnight … Or for that matter the notorious Person on Business from Porlock. Almost unnecessary, one might think, to turn back to the poems themselves at all (do they still do so in schools?). Those proverbial titles seem to hold all the poetry.

So it easy to forget how strange, how captivating, how haunted Coleridge's actual poems are. Why is it, for example, that so many of them are set at night? Why do their outer landscapes always dissolve into inner dream worlds? Why are they so full of guilt? And yet why are they also so often suffused with beautiful, healing, glimmering moonlight?

One answer to all these questions (especially popular among recent film-makers) has always been drug addiction. Step forward, Coleridge the lyrical smackhead. Coleridge's poems are explained away as forms of drug-induced hallucinations. It is certainly true that Coleridge began taking opium as a schoolboy in London, experimented with it throughout his 20s in the West Country and Germany, and was seriously addicted by the time he settled in the Lake District in 1801 aged 29.

Throughout his adult life Coleridge had crippling bouts of anxiety and depression; it has been speculated that he had bipolar disorder , which had not been defined during his lifetime. [1] He was physically unhealthy, which may have stemmed from a bout of rheumatic fever and other childhood illnesses. He was treated for these conditions with laudanum , which fostered a lifelong opium addiction.

However, Coleridge seems to have appreciated his teacher, as he wrote in recollections of his school days in Biographia Literaria :

Throughout his life, Coleridge idealised his father as pious and innocent, while his relationship with his mother was more problematic. [ citation needed ] His childhood was characterised by attention seeking, which has been linked to his dependent personality as an adult. [ citation needed ] He was rarely allowed to return home during the school term, and this distance from his family at such a turbulent time proved emotionally damaging. [ citation needed ] He later wrote of his loneliness at school in the poem " Frost at Midnight ": "With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt/Of my sweet birthplace."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Biography and Works. Search.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge | British poet and critic.

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