Coleridge’s Career by Graham Davidson

By Graham Davidson

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7 The object or image has its life renewed by the stimulated imagination of the observer: at its highest, of course, these two entities are seen to participate in one common life, as Wordsworth felt on Snowdon. To the degree that the mind is excited by what it sees, to that degree it enters into a relation with the external world, and it lives in the world, and the world in it. If the observed is merely scenic nature, then we may say that it is possible for the mind to be the life of nature, and for nature to give substance to the forms of the mind.

So in his lines on Brockley Coomb, the description follows the pattern of the ascent: With many a pause and oft reverted eye I climb the coomb's ascent: sweet songsters near The Conversation Poems 21 Warble in shade their wild-wood melody: Far off the unvarying Cuckoo soothes my ear. Where broad smooth stones jut out in mossy seats I rest: and now have gain' d the topmost site. Ah! what a luxury of landscape meets My gaze ... [PW I 94] The description is rich and delightful, but the question that arises is whether the reader is either able to discern from these lines the emotion infused in the collected images, or a unity of idea.

Fells us of silence,' then the subsequent lines return him to a rush of varied sensation, and the direction they are taking is not apparent; a first-time reader might well be excused for wondering, by line 25, what the poet is trying to convey. It is not explicit in anything that those 25 lines contain. 1s His purpose is of course declared in the subsequent passage, which asserts the existence of 'the one Life within us and abroad', in the 1828 and subsequent texts; but in 1803 Coleridge omitted lines 21-33, testifying to his uncertainty about the imagery of elfins and fairy-land, and the text then read: Such a soft floating witchery of sound Methinks, it should have been impossible Not to love all things in a World like this, Where e'en the Breezes, and the simple Air, Possess the power and Spirit of Melody!

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