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Analysis:             Poet's Biography

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was an English poet, critic, and philosopher, who, alongside his friend William Wordsworth, was a foundational figure of the Romantic movement in England. Coleridge's literary output was vast and varied, including not only poetry but also significant contributions to literary criticism and philosophy, particularly with his theories on the imagination.

Early Influences:

Coleridge's early life was marked by intense reading and learning, developing an affinity for the works of philosophers and poets alike. His father, a vicar and a schoolmaster, introduced him to the classics of the Latin and Greek traditions, while his own voracious reading habits acquainted him with the works of contemporary philosophers such as David Hartley and the neoplatonists, which would significantly shape his intellectual development.

Poetic Schools or Movements:

As a central figure of the Romantic movement, Coleridge’s poetry is characterized by an emphasis on emotion, nature, and the imagination. He famously collaborated with Wordsworth on the "Lyrical Ballads" (1798), a volume which is often cited as the beginning of English Romanticism. Coleridge's contributions, most notably "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," displayed his unique poetic voice and deep interest in the supernatural and the limits of human experience.

Poetic Oeuvre: Phases and Themes:

Early Work:

Coleridge’s initial poetic endeavors reflected the revolutionary spirit of the age and were imbued with the ideals of liberty and human rights, as seen in poems like "Religious Musings" and "The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement."

Middle Period:

His most productive years, 1797-1798, often referred to as his "annus mirabilis," produced some of his most famous works. During this time, Coleridge wrote "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Kubla Khan," and "Christabel." These poems explored the depths of the human psyche, supernatural themes, and exotic imagery and showcased his innovative use of meter and rhythm.

Later Work:

His later poetry often engaged with themes of human fallibility, the search for divine truth, and the nature of creativity. Poems such as "Dejection: An Ode" and "The Pains of Sleep" reflect his struggles with opium addiction and personal crises.


Coleridge’s influence on English literature is profound. He introduced German idealist philosophy to English readers, influencing a generation of writers and poets. His critical work, particularly "Biographia Literaria" (1817), remains a cornerstone of English literary criticism. He was a precursor to American Transcendentalism and influenced later poets such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe.


During his lifetime, Coleridge's work was not without acclaim, but his reputation was overshadowed by personal struggles. It was in the years following his death that Coleridge’s critical and philosophical works began to be recognized for their genius. He is now honored as a key figure in the English Romantic movement, with annual lectures and societies dedicated to his study, including the Friends of Coleridge society.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge remains one of the most studied and celebrated figures in English literature. His contributions to the Romantic movement have helped define the course of English poetry and literary thought. Coleridge’s exploration of the imaginative faculties and the depth of human emotion has left an indelible mark on literature, providing insights that continue to influence writers and thinkers to the present day. His work is characterized by its richness and complexity, and his profound ideas about poetry, criticism, and philosophy ensure his continued relevance and admiration.

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