Coleridge

RELATION OF DESCRIPTIONS TO NATURE IN COLERIDGE'S POETRY

Coleridge, like many other romantic writers of his time such as Wordsworth, demonstrated through his works a great interest in nature. Instead of following the philosophy of the eighteenth century which drew the line between man and nature, Coleridge developed a passionate view of the idea that there is just ''one''. He believed that nature was ""the eternal language which God utters"", therefore conecting men, nature and the spiritual together. In his poetry, Coleridge used his philosophy to to explore wider issues through the close observation of images and themes relating to the natural world.
Coleridge makes use of paradoxes to demonstrate the equilibrium
found in the ever-conflicting natural world. For example, in the ''Rime of the Ancient Mariner", the statement : ''water, water every where,/ nor any drop to drink'' is demontrative of this paradoxical irony. Such as the ''beauty and the happiness'' of the ''slimy things'' which the mariner notices whilst at sea. There is also a double meaning in the description of the mariner's soul, which includes the ambiguous word agony, as it can mean mental pain and pleasure. The reason for this double meaning is to symbolise the fact that the balance in nature is at the heart of the natural world, just as the soul of the mariner is to him. Both in imagery and style, these contrasts are equally balanced.
Furthermore, Coleridge has used his techinque to explore the timelessness, or eternity, found in nature. In the poem Kubla Khan, he hints it with adjectives like ''measureless'', in reference
to he caverns, and ''ancient'', referring to the forests, purposely present in the first stanza to show the importance they hold. The mysterious names he employs, like Kubla Khan and Xanadu, he is suggesting that what is man-made is evanescent, unlike the ternity of nature. To enforce this feeling and underline eternity, he chose to keep the natural subjects in the poem undefinite : "green hills", "caves of ice''.
Moreover, Kubla Khan possess a sort of hypnotizing beat, particularly noticed in the first stanza. The poem is given a hard but regular rhythm
with the alliteration of the frst five lines : "Kubla Khan'', ''dome decree'', and ''sunless sea''. Coleridge interlaces short exclamations (''but oh!'', ''a savage place!'') and exageratedly long exclamations (''as holy and enchanted as e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted by a woman wailing for her demon lover!'') reinforces the feeling of flowing which is related to the time ''ticking'' irregularly away, creating a sense of timelessness. This sense of timelessness is also reflected in the regularity in which the story is told by the mariner. The rhyme scheme in which he speaks becomes an almost funny nursery song because of the regularity of the couplets. The word ''ancient'' is often used for inanimate and natural subjects, therefore consolidating the idea of eternity, like the vastness of the ocean inwhich the mariner is stuck. It's also interesting to note that the close attention he brings to details in his story hints that it has been told many times before, as noticed in his description of the albatross, ''at first it seemed a little speck,/And then it seemed to mist''. This makes us realize that it a story that it is a timeless story of the natural world and that it wasn't told at one exact moment in time.
Coleridge probably sought to reflect nature through the Mariner's appearance. His looks are suggested to be charismatic although unkempt, as hints the repeated emphasise on his ''glittering'', ''bright'' eyes. The Mariner can also pass as a sort of 'spokesman for nature' when he is described as a ''greybeard loon''. In addition, his timelessness in contrast to the deaths of all the other crew members is symbolic of the nature he has come to represent.
However, the supposed eternity of nature is looked upon in a rather paradoxical way because a sense of the infinite is created by points which focus on events or images who symbolise of a wider natural world. In this we may guess another attempt of Coleridge to suggest the paradoxes in the natural world, when he indirectly writes about something infinite with a specific event or image.
Another view held by many romantic poets is the idea of ''religion in nature''. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner uses then neutralizes many of of those religious images. There is a subtle connotation to the star the three wise men followed in the third part when the mariner says : ''I beheld/ A something in the sky''. Though the actual ''something'' is the albatross, which is the key symbol in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner just as the star is in the Bible. The soldiers who died for Jesus' clothes after his death on the cross are mirrored with the words ''life-in-death'' and ''death'' ''were casting dice'' for the souls of the crew.
There are also other echoes of Christianity, with the mariner's redemption after all his sins, when he becomes less arrogant and changes his points of view. However, his killing of the albatross remains unexplained and goes against rather then towards religion, slightly contradicting the christian message. To a further extent, the presence of religion in nature is considered from a more pejorative perspective when we witness that the mariner is in the end not forgiven for his sins, shadowing the image of an ever forgiving God.
Continuing with the examination of religion in nature, the poems also focuse on the power and nemesis of the natural world. It is because of the mistake and sin of the Mariner of killing the albatross that the entire crew becomes victim of nature and is tortured. The first part is brutaly ended by the line "I shot the ALBATROSS', which is shorter then the other lines in the first stanza and is even more made significant with the fact that the word ''albatross'' is written in capital letters. In corrolation, the ''pleasure dome'' in Kubla Khan, which even his description as ''stately'' makes it seem grandiose, is deafened by the biblical language describing the natural world, as the dome is surrounded by ''romantic chasm'' and ''ancestral voices''. Coleridges greatly stimulates all five senses through all of his sensual descriptions. The natural images are given sensous descriptions, giving them a very powerful feeling and underlining the importance of nature itself. The ''sunless sea'' and the ''garden bright'' are both breathtaking visual images, and the and the sound of the ''woman wailing'' and the ''damsel'' who is ''singing of mount Abora'' stimulates our sense of hearing and fills our ears with imagined mysterious sounds. Similarly, our sense of smell is awaken with the ''incense-bearing tree''. Furthermore, the ''earth breathing'' and the fact that the character has ''drunk the milk of paradise'' makes us feel and taste with this powerful language the mystical natural world in which Kubla Khan built a ''stately pleasure dome''.
Coleridge's poetry may be compared to the modern zoom of a camera. Indeed, he seems to be relying on close and detailed analysis of nature to introduce and suggest bigger themes and ideas, such as for example religion in nature. This zoom effect scans the general scenery he describes in his poem, and then turns its focus upon one specific image, detail, or event, which in turn will become symbolic of a greater meaning, nature as a whole.http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Coleridge/109890

Coleridge 7.6 of 10 on the basis of 3854 Review.