Coleridge's Writings, Part 7 to the Life & Works of
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"He would often permit our exercises, under some pretext of want of time, to accumulate, till each lad had four or five to look over. Then placing the whole number abreast on his desk, he would ask the writer, why this or that sentence might not have found as appropriate a place under this or that other thesis: and if no satisfying answer could be returned, and two faults of the same kind were found in one exercise, the irrevocable verdict followed, the exercise was torn up, and another on the same subject to be produced, in addition to the tasks of the day. ... He sent us to the University excellent Latin and Greek scholars, and tolerable Hebraists. Yet our classical knowledge was the least of the good gifts, which we derived from his zealous and conscientious tutorage."41Coleridge contribution, only contribution to Lyrical Ballads, was that work for which Coleridge will ever be remembered, The Rhyme of Ancient Mariner.42 By March of 1801, Coleridge had lost much of his confidence. In a letter to Godwin dated March 1801, Coleridge wrote: "The poet is dead in me, My imagination ... lies like the cold snuff on the circular rim of a candlestick." In July of 1802 he writes to Southey: "All my poetic genius ... is gone."43 Besides his Ancient Mariner, I suppose, the other works of which we must make note is Christabel and Kubla Khan. All of these works, poems, were on exotic or supernatural themes. I set forth a few lines for a taste:
The ship was cheered, the harbor cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top, (pt. I, st. 6.) ...
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrows followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea. (pt. II, st. 5.) ...
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink. (pt. II, st. 9.) ...
Alone, alone, all, all alone;
Alone on a wide, wide sea., (pt. IV, st. 3.) ...
Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole. (pt. V, st. 1.) ...
Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread. (pt. VI, st. 10.)
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round.
And the spring comes slowly up this way. (pt. I, l. 22.) ...
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can. (pt. I, l. 49.) ...
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
And to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain. (pt. II, l. 410)
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