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Early Affinities: Friendship and Coleridge’s Conversation Poems

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Abstract

Those of Coleridge’s early poems that have been loosely grouped together under the common name of ‘conversation poems’ arguably constitute an early instance of the radical informality pursued by the modern lyric. With one exception, they were all written between 1794 and 1799, and were to have a considerable influence on Wordsworth. Yet Wordsworth is not the only figure who had a close link with Coleridge at the time. In a manner not completely unlike that of the romantics in Jena, Coleridge briefly had a group of friends and writers living close by in the West Country. At least intermittently, this group constituted something of a literary coterie or circle with close bonds of both friendship and writing. With Dorothy Wordsworth, Charles Lamb and various spouses and relatives, Coleridge and Wordsworth formed a closely-knit unit, particularly during when Coleridge was living at Nether Stowey.1 This informal community was a shadowy remnant of Coleridge and Southey’s preceding and more ambitious plan to form a small, completely democratic society on the banks of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania — the so-called ‘pantisocracy’.

Keywords

Common Friendship Traditional Poetry Early Letter Elevated Form West Country 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    Kelvin Everest, Coleridge’s Secret Ministry: The Context of the Conversation Poems 1795–1798 (Hassocks: The Harvester Press, 1979), 71.Google Scholar
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  4. 5.
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Copyright information

© Charles I. Armstrong 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BergenNorway

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