Richard Holmes's radical division of the poems into eight categories of theme and genre casts a fresh light on the whole structure of Coleridge's work. It dispels the myth of the 'metaphysical dreamer' who wrote poetry only for a few ephemeral months of inspiration. At the heart are the Conversation Poems, a unified and beautifully crafted autobiographical sequence, composed over a period of twelve years. The volume also includes the little-known love poems to Asra, the robust Hill Walking Poems and the secret agony of the Confessional Poems. It also draws attention to previously undervalued later poetry born of restless old age and ironic reflection.
Living in a revolutionary age, Coleridge's poetry was written in a spirit of moral and emotional inquiry into the absolutes of the human condition. He is best known for his visionary poetry ('Kubla Khan') and his ballads ('The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'), but he used and transformed a variety of verse forms, from the sonnet to the conversation poem, on subjects as diverse as nature, love, and politics. This selection calls attention to the range of Coleridge's work, its strong autobiographical content,and its artistic development throughout his career. The old chronological form has been abandoned and the poems are organised according to genre, with each section displaying its own individual development in craft and theme.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834) was a poet, critic, and philosopher of Romanticism. He and William Wordsworth published the LYRICAL BALLADS in 1799, marking a conscious break with 18th-century tradition. Richard Holmes is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded an OBE. The first volume of his biography of Coleridge won the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year Prize.
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