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Friday, October 21, 2016

Poetry Friday--Happy Birthday, Samuel Taylor Coleridge!

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on this day in 1772. He is known for poems such as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan," works you probably studied in high school. (More of his poetry can be found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Poems [821 COL].)

Courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

Coleridge is an often quoted philosopher, too. Here are a few sample quotes, all relating to poetry:

No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher.

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The proper and immediate object of science is the acquirement, or communication, of truth; the proper and immediate object of poetry is the communication of immediate pleasure.

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In philosophy equally as in poetry it is the highest and most useful prerogative of genius to produce the strongest impressions of novelty...

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Not the poem which we have read, but that to which we return, with the greatest pleasure, possesses the genuine power, and claims the name of essential poetry.

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Our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination.

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I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in their best order.

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Poetry is certainly something more than good sense, but it must be good sense at all events; just as a palace is more than a house, but it must be a house, at least.

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I take unceasing delight in Chaucer. His manly cheerfulness is especially delicious to me in my old age. How exquisitely tender he is, and yet how perfectly free from the least touch of sickly melancholy or morbid drooping! The sympathy of the poet with the subjects of his poetry is particularly remarkable in Shakspeare and Chaucer; but what the first effects by a strong act of imagination and mental metamorphosis, the last does without any effort, merely by the inborn kindly joyousness of his nature. How well we seem to know Chaucer! How absolutely nothing do we know of Shakspeare!

You can draw your own conclusions, but for me, I think Coleridge was saying that poetry should be able to reveal its writer, yet still give lasting pleasure by appealing to what is basic to the individuals reading it. What do you take away from these quotes?

Ponder what he was saying, but then visit this week's Round-Up being held at The Miss Rumphius Effect where you'll find more poetry to bring you pleasure.


2 comments:

  1. I love that he says: "I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in their best order" because "the best words in the best order" comes up quite often, so this is remembered by poets (clever and young or otherwise) even now.

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  2. I think poetry should be philosophy, art and smell of rising bread, too.

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