Stephen Prickett is the historian of the Romantic rainbow. In his The Poetry of Growth,1 he identifies the rainbow and various related phenomena as Wordworth’s and Coleridge’s central symbols for the imagination. Coleridge’s definition of the symbol as the ‘translucence of the infinite through the finite’ suggests how the rainbow may represent the defining activity of the poet’s imagination, for, in the rainbow, light, the type of the infinite, shines through a translucent water-drop to produce the bow. The rainbow becomes, in this reading, a symbol of peculiar authority, for it is the symbol of the symbol-making activity itself. It is not a figure peculiar to Coleridge.


Extended Definition Hard Thing Morning Star Aesthetic Ideal Poetic Imagination 
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  1. 1.
    Stephen Prickett, The Poetry of Growth (Cambridge, 1970).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    The Complete Works of John Ruskin ed. Wedderburn and Cook (London, 1903–12) vol. x, p. 174.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, R. A. (London, 1937 ) p. 396.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Cronin 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Cronin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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