Samuel Taylor Coleridge

SamuelTaylorColeridgeSamuel Taylor Coleridge, was born on 21 October 1772 in Ottery St. Mary in Devon, the tenth and youngest child of Ann Bowdon Coleridge and John Coleridge, a school-master and vicar whom he was said to resemble physically as well as mentally. The youngest child in the family, Coleridge was a student at his father’s school and an avid reader. He was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets.

At Cambridge University, he was introduced to political and theological ideas then considered radical, including those of the poet Robert Southey. In 1795, the two friends married sisters Edith and Sarah Fricker but Coleridge’s marriage with Sarah proved unhappy and they later separated.

The years 1797 and 1798, during which he lived in what is now known as Coleridge Cottage, in Nether Stowey, Somerset, were among the most fruitful of Coleridge’s life. In 1795, Coleridge met poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. Besides the Rime of The Ancient Mariner, he composed the symbolic poem Kubla Khan, written, Coleridge himself claimed, as a result of an opium dream, in “a kind of a reverie”. During this period, he also produced his poems This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight, and The Nightingale.

In 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, which proved to be the starting point for the English romantic age. Wordsworth may have contributed more poems, but the real star of the collection was Coleridge’s first version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Coleridge’s poems directly and deeply influenced all the major poets of the age. He was known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in his careful reworking of his poems than any other poet, and Southey and Wordsworth were dependent on his professional advice. His influence on Wordsworth is particularly important because many critics have credited Coleridge with the very idea of “Conversational Poetry”.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is distinguished for the scope and influence of his thinking about literature as much as for his innovative verse. He died in Highgate, London on 25 July 1834 as a result of heart failure compounded by an unknown lung disorder, possibly linked to his use of opium.

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