History: E212-M_Coleridge

Comparing version 1 with version 3


Assigned: Biographia Literaria (467-86), Lectures on Shakespeare (486-89), The Statesman's Manual (489-92), "The Eolian Harp" (419-20), "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (422-38), "Kubla Khan" (439-41), "Frost at Midnight" (457-58), "Dejection: an Ode" (459-62).

Biographia Literaria, Chapter 13 (XIII)

1. What Coleridge calls, in Chapter XIII, the "secondary imagination" is the creative imagination of the artist. How does he describe the relationship of this power to the world of objects? What characterizes all objects as objects, and how does the secondary imagination differ? What does it do to the world of objects?

Biographia Literaria, Chapter 14 (XIV)

2. What distinguishes a poem from a work of science or ordinary prose? How does Coleridge further define poetry?

3. What is the relationship of parts to parts in a "legitimate poem"? How does a genuinely satisfactory poem engage the reader's attention with respect to its parts? With respect to the whole?

4. What does the poet do? What comment, in other words, does Coleridge offer about the value of poets to their fellow human beings?

5. What is the "synthetic and magical power"? In what special activity does this power reveal itself?

6. What are some of the "opposite or discordant qualities" balanced or reconciled by imagination?

Biographia Literaria, Chapter 17 (XVII)

7. Coleridge has his disagreements with Wordsworth about poetic language. What reasons does he give for disagreeing, and what are his own views about the matter?

Lectures on Shakespeare ("Fancy and Imagination / Mechanic vs. Organic Form")

8. On 486-7, what special qualities does Coleridge attribute to Shakespeare's genius? What do you find most worthwhile about Shakespeare's work?

9. On 488, what relationship does Coleridge posit between the "spirit of poetry" and "rules"? What standard of value does Coleridge reject in judging the playwright's work, and why?

10. On 488, how, according to Coleridge, is a literary work like a "living body"? What characterizes the organization of a literary work (i.e., an embodiment of the creative "spirit of poetry")?

11. On 488-89, what laws or rules does true genius follow? What sort of power defines genius, and what error do critics such as Voltaire commit when they judge Shakespeare unfavorably?

12. How does Coleridge describe mechanical form? How does he describe organic form?

The Statesman's Manual (on symbol and allegory)

13. Of what is allegory "but a translation"?

14. What characterizes a symbol?

"The Eolian Harp"

15. What is the relationship between the poem's setting and the speaker's state of mind?

16. What is the speaker's attitude towards his own powers of intellect or imagination? Why does he reject his pantheistic claims?

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

17. What power enables the Mariner to stop the wedding guest in his tracks? What is the value of "superstition" in this poem"?

18. Why should it matter that the man stopped was on his way to a wedding?

19. Why does the Mariner shoot the Albatross? Is any reason given in the poem?

20. How is the albatross more than a plain old albatross — what is its spiritual significance, if any? What do you make of the "breeze" that blows through the poem — i.e. that at certain points the Mariner's ship is becalmed or takes sail?

21. What event or process leads the Mariner to bless the sea-snakes unawares? Why does the Albatross then fall from his neck?

22. Why must the Mariner continue with his penance — why must he repeat his tale to everyone he can fix with his gaze?

"Kubla Khan"

23. What allows the speaker to compose this poem? How does the enabling factor or power differ from memory, which is especially important to Wordsworth and often to Coleridge as well?

24. If you agree that Kubla Khan is a poet-figure, how does he compose his "poetry"? What significance does the descriptive imagery of his poem hold? In what sense might this poem be said to delve into what we would now call "the Unconscious"?

25. "I would build that dome in air" (46), declares the speaker — why can't he do it? Or is that what the fragmentary poem we have amounts to — the dome he would like to build in air?

"Frost at Midnight"

26. How is the child (i.e. the speaker when he was a child) the "father of the man" in this poem, to borrow a phrase from Wordsworth?

27. What is the "stranger"? What effect did it have upon the speaker as a child, and what effect does it have upon him now, as he utters the poem?

28. What is "the eternal language that thy god utters" (60-61)? How is God a poet?

29. What is the speaker's hope for his child as he grows up? How should the child's growing up differ from the speaker's?

30. What is the "secret ministry of Frost," and why is it "quietly shining to the quiet moon"?

"Dejection: an Ode"

31. What relationship between mind and nature does this poem posit — that is, what is the relationship between the speaker's mind and nature at present, and what should it be? How do the speaker's ideas concerning this relationship invoke the basic claim of Kant's philosophical idealism, as we shall discuss it in class?

32. What is the significance of the stormy weather in this poem?

33. Meyer Abrams divides the "Greater Romantic Lyric" into three stages — a description of the natural scene, an analysis of that scene and the problem about which it reminds the speaker, and an emotional or "affective" resolution of the problem. Does the speaker resolve his problem in this poem? Explain.

Edition: Abrams, M. H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vols. 2A-C. 7th ed. New York: Norton, 2000. ISBN 2A = 0393975681, 2B = 039397569X, 2C = 0393975703.

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