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Sunday, 21 October 2018

Compare Coleridge's concept of a poet with Wordsworth's ?

William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge are two giants of the Romantic Period. They are the leaders of the Revival of Romanticism. Coleridge's concept of a poet!! They contribute a great lot in this respect. But they do not hold the same views on the nature, function and creation of poetry and poet. Their attitude to them often differs from each other. Their ideas show their different dispositions. It is also true that their ideas are innovative. Wordsworth throws much light on the nature and function of a poet in his "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". He is highly conscious of the distinction between a common man and a man of genius. This difference is worth considering. It has a certain degree. This leads Wordsworth to analyses the qualities of a poet. His concept of poet is new. Similarly, Coleridge expresses his own ideas of poet in his best-known critical piece, " Biographia Literaria ". He shows some qualities of a poet similar to and different from those of Wordsworth.
Coleridge's concept of a poet

Wordsworth says that a poet is a man speaking to men. He is a man like other men. He has a social function to perform. He writes not only for his own pleasure but also for communicating his emotions and feelings to others. He tries his best to communicate them to the public. In this this respect, Wordsworth says -----
       
" The poet thinks and feels in the spirit of human passions. "

A poet is a flesh and blood. His language should be the same to the language of common men. Thus the critic represents himself as a real lover of man. Wordsworth wants to say that there is no difference between a poet and a common man. A poet differs from an ordinary man not in kind but in degree. He has a comprehensive soul which rustic people do not have. He is endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness. He has a greater knowledge of human nature and a more comprehensive soul. He has a greater imaginative power. So he can feel and react emotionally to the events and incidents which he has not directly experienced.

Coleridge believes that the poet's soul is the appropriate place of poetic activity. A poet has poetic genius. He modifies the feelings, thoughts, emotions and images of his own mind. He is a great modifier of different emotions. He activates the soul of a man. He employs his soul in the poetic process. All the feelings, emotions thoughts and images of his soul are fused by his imagination or poetic process. So a poem is a reflection of the fused elements of the soul. According to Coleridge, a poet is a great philosopher. No man can be a poet without philosophic knowledge. But Wordsworth thinks that a poet is affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present. He can share the emotional experiences of others. He can identify himself with the emotions of others. He can express the emotions of others easily. Moreover, a poet has a great power of communication. He can communicate even those thoughts and feelings which arise in him without any immediate external excitement. 

According to Coleridge, imagination and emotion are two principal qualities of a poet. A poet is a person who has excessive ability to manage different qualities. He plays a reconciliatory role in the activities of different concepts and percepts. He is a person who is gifted with a special ability to feel emotions. Apparently, the mind of a poet seems to be disordered. But inwardly, it is always in an ordered condition. The poet is adjusted with the universe. The universe never comes out from its proper order. In the same way, the poet's mind never districts from its track. It is always in a proper order. The imaginative activity of the poet does not come out of its routine work. Imaginative activities of the poet follow the ordered direction of his mind. Coleridge thinks that poetry is a recurrence of God's creative act. For this reason, the effort of the poet is the poet's adoration of God. The poet recreates the glory of God. So he is the singer of God.

According to Wordsworth, a poet must feel the pulse of the common man. He is the poet of common humanity but not for the poets only. In this respect, we mention Edmund Spenser. He is called the poets' poet in the Elizabethan Age. When we go through his poetry, we feel that he does not write it for ordinary man but writes only for the poets and the elites. In the Neo-classical Period, we see that the poets composed poems in describing the decorated drawing room, coffee houses etc. Personifications of abstract ideas are salient features of the eighteenth century. There is no room for common people in their poetry. Wordsworth disapproves such tendency of the poets. He says-----
     
  "But poets do not write for poets alone but for men."

He says that poets should not write only for poets. Poets have to write for only common men in common or rustic language.Coleridge thinks that a poet should feel the essentiality of objectivism. The poet  needs objectivsm to form a poem. To transfer a human interest from our inward nature, objectivism is needed. Objectivism helps the poet create "willing suspension of disbelief" and poetic faith in his writing. Subjectivity may be granted by a poet. But a true poet has the power to go beyond the limits of subjectiveity. True and skilled poets do not need the influence of subjectiveity. Personal involvement is not needed in the case of a skilled poet. However, Coleridge does not object to subjectivity. He wants to detach the poet from his personal feelings. He wants to direct the poet towards universality.

Wordsworth believes that the poet who has such qualities looks at the world in the spirit of love. He is always guided by the particular feelings. He develops sympathy and understands that man is organic to the universe. He binds together the vast human empire. In this respect, Wordsworth says-----
         
"The poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time."

A poet is not of a particular passion or particular society. His feeling and knowledge are of universal category. He binds the whole human society with them. His world is vast and does not live in a desolate world. His feelings and his thoughts must not be mystical to the readers. He must think and feel as a man thinks and feels.

In conclusion, we can say that Wordsworth does not produce any well-knit definition of a poet in his famous "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads". Similarly, Coleridge does not define a poet well in his " Biographia Literaria " too. Both of them only venture to identify some qualities or ideas of a man who intends to get himself included in the class of poets. They try to show some features or qualities of a poet in their critical pieces.

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