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Friday, 2 November 2018

Discuss how useful Coleridge's description of the creative process is for understanding poetry?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the greatest literary critics in the history of English literature. His greatness as a poet and critic has been almost universally recognised. He tries to explain the aim and purpose of poetry in a philosophical manner. He has blended literature with philosophy. His critical views are expressed in his famous critical book, "Biographia Literaria". In this book, he makes some questions regarding the nature and function of poetry. Afterwards, he answers the questions which express his critical views. He expresses his creative process for understanding poetry. This creative process is useful to certain extent. According to Coleridge, the first and foremost duty of a poem is to give pleasure. A poem may have connection with truth or may not have. As a result, it is little bit different from science. Coleridge also believes that metre is an essential part of a poem. The constructing features or the elements of a poem need metre. Coleridge shows that there are some difference between poetry and poem. Poetry is a larger matter than a poem. It is a kind of activity that takes places in the poet's soul. A poem is one of the expressions of that activity. Coleridge thinks that poetry activates the entire soul of a man. But a poem is basically an activity of the poet's imagination. So poetry is related to the poet's soul. A poem is related to the poet's imagination. Obviously soul is more important than imagination. For this reason, poetry means a poetic process and the poet's mind works in this poetic process. Coleridge believes that the characters of a poem should be the representatives of human beings. They should be universal characters. According to him, poetry should not include any accidental character or incident. As a result, poetic characters should not belong to any particular class. A poet should not show any excessive interest to any particular sections of the society. Coleridge severely criticises Wordsworth for his excessive attention for the rustic people. Coleridge also shows his unique quality in the field of poetic diction or poetic language. He thinks that a poem is an expression of poetic activity that takes place in the poet's soul. Poetic language is a reflection of that poetic process. The reflections of poetic process constitute poetic language. For this reason, poetic language should follow any particular rule. As a result, rustic language cannot be suitable for poetic language. The language of the general people is not appropriate for the universal appeal of a poem. On the other hand, poetic language can present the views of one section of the society. It is not suitable for all sections. The language of poetry should be the language that can clearly present the reflections of the "poetic process". Coleridge asserts that poetic language is not totally similar to prosaic language. The worlds of the two languages are the same but the sentence patterns of prose and poetry are different. Poetry should follow the rules of metre. Coleridge rejects the Neo-classical artificial language. But he never accepts the rustic language. Coleridge also gives us an idea of a poet. According to him, 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. A poem is a reflection of the fused elements of the soul. On the other hand, a poet is a great philosopher. No man can be a poet without philosophic knowledge.
Coleridge's description of the creative process

However, we find that Coleridge expresses his views on poetry, poet, language of poetry and metre in his " Biographia Literaria ". He tries to show the distinction between 'a poem' and 'poetry'. He analyses the purpose of poetry. He tries to show distinction between fancy and imagination. He describes the creative process for studying poetry to a certain extent. As a literary critic, Coleridge criticises Wordsworth's theory of poetry expressed in " Preface to the Lyrical Ballads ". He refuses his theory of language and poetic diction logically. He objects some of his views too. Thus he becomes a literary critic.

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