SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an outstanding English poet, literary critic, philosopher, and theologian. He started the Romantic Movement with his friend William Wordsworth in England which brought a fresh lease of life to English Literature.
He was born on 21 October 1772, Ottery St Mary, Devon, Great Britain to Reverend John Coleridge (1718–1781), the well-respected vicar of St Mary’s Church, Ottery St Mary and the headmaster of the King’s School, a free grammar school established by King Henry VIII (1509–1547) in the town and Anne Bowden (1726–1809) his second wife. He was the youngest of the ten children from Anne. As a child, Coleridge wasn’t interested in sports. Instead, he preferred reading lots of books. After his father, John Coleridge’s death in 1781, 8-year-old, Samuel started attending Christ’s Hospital, a charity school, founded in the 16th century in Greyfriars, London, studying and writing poetry. Coleridge met Charles Lamb at school and they became friends. They studied the works of Virgil and William Lisle Bowles.
Coleridge mentioned the recollections of his school days in Biographia Literaria:” I enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a very sensible, though at the same time, a very severe master […] At the same time that we were studying the Greek Tragic Poets, he made us read Shakespeare and Milton as lessons: and they were the lessons too, which required most time and trouble to bring up, so as to escape his censure. I learnt from him, that Poetry, even that of the loftiest, and, seemingly, that of the wildest odes, had a logic of its own, as severe as that of science; and more difficult, because more subtle, more complex, and dependent on more, and more fugitive causes. […] In our own English compositions (at least for the last three years of our school education) he showed no mercy to phrase, metaphor, or image, unsupported by a sound sense, or where the same sense might have been conveyed with equal force and dignity in plainer words… In fancy I can almost hear him now, exclaiming Harp? Harp? Lyre? Pen and ink, boy, you mean! Muse, boy, Muse? your Nurse’s daughter, you mean! Pierian spring? Oh aye! the cloister-pump, I suppose! […] Be this as it may, there was one custom of our master’s, which I cannot pass over in silence, because I think it … worthy of imitation. He would often permit our theme exercises, … to accumulate, till each lad had four or five to be looked 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.
Coleridge went to Jesus College, Cambridge from 1791 to 1794. In 1792, he won the Browne Gold Medal for an ode that he wrote attacking the slave trade. He left college in December 1793 to join The King’s) Light Dragoons using the false name Silas Tomkyn Comberbache to get over the heartbreak after being rejected by his love, Mary Evans, or debts. He got readmitted to Jesus College but could never receive a university degree.
He married Sara Fricker in 1795 and separated from her in 1808 after having four children. Two great poets of their time, Coleridge and Wordsworth met for the first time in 1795. They came together to compose one of the best masterpieces, Lyrical Ballads in 1798.
His life started going downhill because of his opium addiction leading to a series of disasters; separation from wife in 1808, fight with Wordsworth in 1810, lost part of his annuity in 1811, and put himself under the care of Dr. Daniel in 1814.
In spite of the addiction, he managed to deliver a series of lectures between 1810-1820 in London and Bristol on the works of Shakespeare . By April 1816, his opium addiction worsened.
Coleridge died in Highgate, London on 25 July 1834 due to heart failure and a lung disorder caused by drug addiction ( over intake of opium).
His outstanding work:
The Eolian Harp (1795)
Reflections on having left a Place of Retirement (1795)
This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison (1797)
Frost at Midnight (1798)
Fears in Solitude (1798)
The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem (1798)
Dejection: An Ode (1802)
To William Wordsworth (1807)
To the river Otter (1793)
Religious Musings (1796)
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798)
Lyrical Ballad ( With Wordsworth) (1798) France : An ode (1798)
Kubla Khan, Or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment (1816)
Sibylline leaves (1817)
He also published pieces of literary criticism in his book, Biographia Literaria (1817) containing his biographical details and the impression of literature.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge dictated a set of philosophical manuscripts to his friend and colleague, Dr Joseph Henry Green, between 1819 and 1823. It was published posthumously in the 2002 version edited by Thomas McFarland with the assistance of Nicholas Halmi. ( Courtesy : Wikipedia)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Poem)
Answer to a child’s question
Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, “I love and I love!”
In the winter they’re silent—the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don’t know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving—all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he—
“I love my Love, and my Love loves me!”
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