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Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Clare

  • John Powell Ward
Chapter

Abstract

Coleridge was Wordsworth’s greatest friend. The serious personal quarrel of 1810–11 perhaps never quite healed over, but they still saw much of each other and there is sufficient evidence of their continued attachment and regard. Yet Coleridge’s very different personality, his powerful, disorganized, fluttering mind meant that the poetry he wrote is for the most part rooted differently from Wordsworth’s. Much as he thought Wordsworth’s the greatest poetic talent since Milton, he thought it was misused. Coleridge’s own poetry was subordinated to his shapeless aesthetic and philosophical investigations, snatches of insight, and always articulate perplexity. His contribution to the English line is thus smaller, for instead of reflection and poetry being one thing in his consciousness, reflection was always a pursuit of its own, as to truth’s inclusive nature.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Coleridge’s views on Wordsworth’s poetry are found in S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ed. George Watson (Dent, Everyman Books, 1956), esp. chs XVII–XXII. The remark to Godwin is found in Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge ed. E. L. Griggs (Oxford, 1956), Vol II, p. 714.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harold Bloom, ‘Coleridge: The Anxiety of Influence’ in New Perspectives On Wordsworth And Coleridge, ed. Geoffrey H. Hartman (Columbia University Press, 1972), pp. 247-67; Thomas McFarland, Coleridge And The Pantheist Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1969), esp. pp. 111, 144.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    K. M. Wheeler, The Creative Mind In Coleridge’s Poetry (Heinemann, 1981), pp. 95, 99.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    An account of the writing of the three poems is given in George Dekker, Coleridge And The Literature Of Sensibility (London, Vision Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Quoted in Mark Storey, The Poetry Of John Clare (Macmillan, 1974), p. 68.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Letters Of John Clare 1818–1837, eds. J. W. and Anne Tibbie (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951), Introduction, p. 20.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Powell Ward 1991

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  • John Powell Ward

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