LIFE: 1772-1834
A Romantic poet of the FIRST GENERATION.

With Wordsworth, he wrote
"The Lyrical Ballads"

1. was born in 1772; at the age of 8 (after he lost his father) he went to an ordinary school in London

2. he studied at the Cambridge – college but he didn’t take a degree

3. in 1797 he became a friend of Wordsworth's: intellectual collaboration that produced in 1798 the “Lyrical ballads”

4. after the tour in Germany (where Coleridge met the German phylosophy, religion and politics) he settled in the Lake District

5. he married and tried to earn his living by lecturing and writing political essays, but being a drug addict he estranged from his wife and he quarelled with Wordsworth

6. thanks to a doctor friend he was able to continue to work and he reconciled with Wordsworth and his wife

7. he passed his last years peacefully: he became the leading personality of a group of artists, gave courses of public lectures and wrote periodicals

· 1st example of a complex Romantic poet = unsettled temperament
· deeply dissatisfied man with society
· philosophical and critical mind = German idealism: a creative mind is capable of recreating the world of sense
· literary criticism = especially against Shakespeare
· inventor of the conversation poem
· poetry = dream world, sublime visions which didn’t conform to realistic standards: irrational
· inventor of the procedures of description of a precise event leading to “meditation”
· supernatural = he believes that supernatural events are more frequent than we expect and also more important in our life
· nature = in Coleridge nature is seen in a different way than in Wordsworth (more natural elements). His nature is transformed following his feelings, seen not through his eyes but through his soul and imagination

- mix between traditional elements and innovations;
- mix between real and supernatural:
events had to be supernatural, emotions had to be real

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
the white bird of good omen
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This poem is Coleridge’s major contribution to the “Lyrical ballads”

* ballad form = popular form (they wanted to spread culture in all the social classes)

Traditional ballad features:

1. sad plot

2. simply written story

3. typical pattern

4. mix of fantasy and real

5. traditional ballad scheme ( 4line stanzas)


1. the typical rhyme scheme (abab) isn’t always followed

2. some descriptions are longer than usual

3. not all the stanzas have 4 lines

· *introduction in latin

· *divided into 7 parts:
1. an old mariner meets 3 guests and stops one of them because he wants to tell him his story
2. the story starts: the ship is blown away by the wind, after that it stops in a deadly silence after the mariner kills an albatros
3.on a ghost ship death and life in death appear: death wins the crew’s lives, life in death wins the old mariner’s life
4.feeling of compassion observing God’s creatures = repentance
5.spirits who take mariner’s sin and his punishment
6.spirits speak about the mariner’s native land and before reaching the land it sanks.
7.The mariner must live forever and teach the love and respect for all God’s creatures by telling his story

· *Symbols, characters

ALBATROSS: represents the human positive qualities,it is the link between reality and imagination, linked with the poetical imagination

CREW’S ATTITUDE: represents the human negative side: all mariners didn’t give a universal moral value to the mariner’s action but they follows the good and the bad fortune they receive from it

MARINER: human journey salvation ( sin – punishment – repentance and redemption )

NATURE: sun light (God’s punishment side, reason) against moonlight ( God’s grace, feelings imagination irrational )

PUNISHMENT: is the projection of Coleridge’s fear that in the universe can rule the chaos and the injustice, in fact the mariner’s sin didn’t deserve such a harsh punishment ( first the loneliness and then the immortality)

*Importance of colours = 1st white, green : positive nature , then red, black: negative nature

by Sara Bellelli

Listen to
as well!
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