Lecture 27: Coleridge & Keats

Samuel Coleridge & John Keats

Romantic Beginnings

Coleridge worked closely with Wordsworth.
They both published the “Lyrical Ballads” and its preface.
Like Wordsworth, Coleridge is known for his conversation poem.
They are similar but there are difference:
Westworth’s poetry is more about the day-to-day world;
Coleridge’s poetry is more about the extraordinary and supernatural.
Coleridge was a critic who also wrote “Biographia Literaria”

Samuel Coleridge
Many of Coleridge’s works are fragments and incomplete.
In “Christabel” and “Kubla Khan”, he creates symbolic landscapes.
“Kubla Khan” is about the creative imagination which Coleridge considers the most powerful of all human senses.
In “Christabel”, there is a search for fuller meaning and understanding.
Both poems use medieval verse forms, styles, and distant past setting.

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
Day after day, day after day, 
We stuck, nor breath nor motion; 
As idle as a painted ship 
Upon a painted ocean. ??

Water, water, every where, 
And all the boards did shrink; 
Water, water, every where, 
Nor any drop to drink.


He prayeth best, who loveth best 
All things both great and small; 
For the dear God who loveth us, 
He made and loveth all. 

John Keats
Keats belongs to the second generation of Romantic Poets.
He was inspired by Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Many of his poems remain fragments.
His long narrative poems have mythic, classical, or medieval background.
Like Coleridge, Keats was interested in the supernatural, irrational, and mysterious.
The death of Keats at 25 made him a symbol of the Romantic movement.

Keats’s themes

The main themes of the poems are the search for lasting beauty and happiness and for permanent meanings in a world where everything fades and dies.
These themes are central to “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode to a Grecian Urn”.
Keats shows that art and artistic creation can make things permanent.
Keats believes poetry can keep human feelings and ideas alive and for ever.

“Ode to a Grecian Urn”

When old age shall this generation waste, ?         
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st, 
 “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
  Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

In “To Autumn”, Keats paints a picture of a world of nature which is dying.
But he ends the poem by stressing the beauty and fullness of autumn which cannot die.
Keats symbolises the Romantic movement:
-of the contrast between life and death, between completeness and incompleteness, and between permanence and impermanence.

Keats’s “This living hand”?

This living hand, now warm and capable 
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold ?And in the icy silence of the tomb, 
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights ?That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood 
So in my veins red life might stream again, 
And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is– 
I hold it towards you. ?