By Graham Davidson
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Extra info for Coleridge’s Career
Wordsworth's subjects, whether taken from the everyday life of human beings, or from the appearances of nature, are always observed, always taken from sense impression immediate or remembered; these images are clearly distinguished from the mind of the observer, and it is the relationship between these two that constitutes the life of the poem. 7 The object or image has its life renewed by the stimulated imagination of the observer: at its highest, of course, these two entities are seen to participate in one common life, as Wordsworth felt on Snowdon.
The Eolian Harp' opens with the contented, if pensive, couple sitting outside their cottage, with Coleridge conscious of the peace Sara has brought him. No wish nor desire profanes this peaceful contentment, and his mind is thus relaxed and prepared for the 'one Life' experience with its accompanying love for 'all things in a world so fill' d' [PW I 101]. Meditating on this experience, he then imagines himself transposed to a nearby hill-top, where he is accustomed to entertain his reveries undisturbed; there, in a flight of mind, and comparing the wind on the harp to the 'idle flitting phantasies' darting across his brain, he extends his analogy to see all aspects of animated nature as examples of the harp, and the wind as the divine soul inspiriting each separately, yet itself undivided.
By comparison we might take the opening section of 'The Dry Salvages', which is ostensibly the description of a river: - sullen, untamed and intractable, Patient to some degree, at first recognized as a frontier; Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce; Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges. ts And this description of the common function of rivers, we enjoy for its own sake, as we take an aesthetic pleasure in Coleridge's description. A transition passage follows in which Eliot hints at his deeper meaning, but the lines immediately afterwards begin with a simple statement of his conception: The river is within us, the sea is all about us.
Coleridge’s Career by Graham Davidson