The Columbia History of British Poetry

By Carl Woodring; James Shapiro | Go to book overview

Coleridge

C OLERIDGE once divided his poems into those written chiefly from the age of seventeen to twenty-five, those written from twenty-five to thirty-three, and those written afterwards. Coleridge was twenty-five in 1797, the year in which the second edition of his Poems on Various Subjects was published, and in that same year he became involved with William Wordsworth in the great experiment of the Lyrical Ballads. Most of the material from the two editions of Poems he later classified as as "Juvenile Poems," while he regarded his Lyrical Ballads contributions as poems of his maturity. The three great poems of the marvelous, by which Coleridge is known to almost every reader of English literature, were composed from 1797 to 1800; the three mature "conversation poems" in 1797-1798; and "Dejection: An Ode," in which Coleridge declared the failure of his creative powers, in 1802. Seldom has a great poet's best work been produced in so short a period, even if we include (as we should) "To William Wordsworth," written in the winter of Coleridge's thirty-third year. Most of the poetry that he produced after that was deliberately in a minor key, though some of it is of great interest, as are some of the very early works.

If we consider the Poems of 1796 and 1797, together with the work later entitled "The Destiny of Nations," which was intended for the 1797 volume but not published until 1817, we seem to be considering a young poet, strongly influenced by the blank verse of Milton and the odes of Thomas Gray, preparing for a career as a writer of religious and political works. "Religious Musings," upon which Coleridge was then prepared to stake his reputation, is the most ambitious of these. Look-

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The Columbia History of British Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Old English Poetry 1
  • Middle English Poetry 23
  • Chaucer 55
  • Poetry in Scots: Barbour to Burns 81
  • From Ballads to Betjeman 110
  • Printing and Distribution of Poetry 132
  • Varieties of Sixteenth-Century Narrative Poetry 156
  • Sixteenth-Century Lyric Poetry 179
  • Spenser, Sidney, Jonson 203
  • Lyric Poetry from Donne to Philips 229
  • Milton 254
  • Dryden and Pope 274
  • Poetry in the Eighteenth Century 301
  • Blake 327
  • Coleridge 341
  • Poetry, 1785-1832 353
  • Byron, Shelley, and Keats 381
  • Wordsworth and Tennyson 405
  • The Victorian Era 425
  • Victorian Religious Poetry 452
  • Pre-Raphaelite Poetry 478
  • The 1890s 505
  • 1898-1945: Hardy to Auden 532
  • Yeats, Lawrence, Eliot 554
  • Poetry in England, 1945-1990 577
  • Problems and Cleavages 605
  • Brief Biographies of the Poets 643
  • Editions 671
  • Notes on Contributors 678
  • Index 683
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