Arthur Symons explores the ideology and works of famous Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his critical essay “Coleridge”. In “Coleridge” Symons discusses what things made Samuel Taylor Coleridge go from poet to philosophical critic and how they shaped him into becoming a beautiful voice for classic English literature. Jump starting Coleridge to swim in the pool of poetry began with the basic fact that Coleridge lacked a “saving belief” in Christian faith. Feeling that the Christian faith had your weaknesses as supporting blocks for your faith Coleridge soon began doubting if Christianity truly suited him. In reality Coleridge “was not strong enough to rely on the impulses of his own nature” with religion, which in “turn his failings into a very actual kind of success…” (Symons, Coleridge). Ironic how Romantic poets normally are influenced by faith and nature but in Coleridge’s case his failure in that area resulted in him creating great achievements in the field of Romantic poetry. Soon he allowed his mind to wonder out of the basic reality we all live in, which consecutively granted him the ability to marvel about space, time and unrealistic ideas. In turn some of his greatest creations were born because his mind was able to think metacognitious thoughts on a regular basis. Coleridge soon began to believe that because he could understand the mind so well that he needed to explore the ideas of others and share what he knew to the world, thus began the transition from poet to critical philosopher. He began to criticize the works of Shakespeare which even not fully finished could beat any other critic who dare tried. But Coleridge didn’t criticize for others, rather he thought the art of criticizing seemed “almost as if it were a science” (Symons, Coleridge) and he wanted to experiment with every element that featured the mind. After being a critic for some time Coleridge returned back to poetry and started recording his life though his art. By dejecting his life and his dreams in a tangible way this allowed him to get a better grasp on his own life, and the life of other humans as well. Symons further explores Coleridge’s works describing how even fragments of poems such as “Kubla Khan” and “Christabel” are consider to be some of “the most sustained pieces of imagination in the whole of English poetry” (Symons, Coleridge).
Going from poet, to critic, back to poet is not an easy task to achieve. Let alone achieve it smoothly. But Coleridge has done this so well it’s almost shocking to me. I never understood the depths of how great a writer Coleridge prevailed to become until I read the essay “Coleridge”. Coleridge understood the mind far better than any average man did and probably still doesn’t to this day. This allowed him to create such beautiful pieces of English literature and leaves him a top rank among poets like William Blake or former friend William Wordsworth. The fact that Coleridge allowed himself to create his dreams in an embodied form of art, even if only in fragments, is breath taking to an average reader. He paints such bewitching images in my mind I can almost feel myself standing in that garden he created in “Kubla Khan”, or experience that feeling of utter hopelessness he brings into being in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The fact that Coleridge can make someone feel an emotion that they weren’t already experiencing in those moments but instead creating a new one from a poem is astonishing. Not very many authors have been blessed with that ability. But the even greater achievement I feel he has established became the fact he that Coleridge previously held the title of a philosophical critic. Although purely for himself Coleridge indeed became known for being such a great critic, especially when criticizing the works of William Shakespeare. Once again his ability to understand the human mind so simply allowed Samuel T. Coleridge to become a man of many talents. I honestly had no idea that Coleridge was such a troubled soul who “can look at it (life) as at one of his dreams which become things; he can sympathize with it as he could never sympathize with his own undeserving self.” (Symons, Coleridge). From this pain and heartache Samuel Taylor Coleridge against all odds rose from his suffering and in turn granted our world with the beauty of getting a glimpse into his genius mind.