Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Natural and Supernatural

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Natural and Supernatural
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Natural and Supernatural
The Gordian: sign up and get our monthly magazine.

Coleridge, like Wordsworth, loved nature and together they enjoyed walking in the Lake District, in the heart of the natural surroundings. However, Coleridge also loved the supernatural. His fantastic and mysterious imagination were an infinite source of inspiration.

It was this poetic process of creation that laid the foundations for the haunting scenes of The Rime of The Ancient Mariner and the visionary surrealistic world of Kubla Khan.

Coleridge did not find any solace in nature, like Wordsworth did. It was not something he could go back to with his memory in order to find joy and consolation. There was no “emotions recollected in tranquillity”. His relationship with nature was more philosophical, seeing it through his philosophical poetic faith: “No man was ever yet a great poet, without at the same time being a profound philosopher.” The intensity of the poet’s vision and imagination is best reflected by the lines from Dejection An Ode:

O Lady! We receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does nature live;
Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud.

What about love?

Love was in every sinew of the poet’s very existence. When he lived in Malta in 1804, he kept a notebook in which he wrote:

 “… While I am talking of War or Government or Chemistry there comes ever into my bodily eye some Tree beneath which we have rested, some rock where we have walked together, or on the perilous road edging, high above the Crummock Lake where we sate beneath the rock & those dear lips pressed on my forehead …”

These words reflect his typically dreamlike state of mind. He delves into a surrealistic dimension within his philosophical reverie and there creates love and love and more love. In his lesser known poem, Recollections of Love, the poet expresses this reverie in a connotative sensual and physical way:

How warm this woodland wild Recess!
Love surely hath been breathing here;
And this sweet bed of heath, my dear!
Swells up, then sinks with faint caress,
As if to have you yet more near.

The poem ends beautifully by blending the sensually physical with his dreams and with his dreams within dreams:

You stood before me like a thought,
A dream remembered in a dream
But when those meek eyes first did seem
O Greta, dear domestic stream
To tell me, Love within you wrought–
Has not, since then, Love’s prompture deep, 
Has not Love’s whisper evermore 
Been ceaseless, as thy gentle roar? 
Sole voice, when other voices sleep, 
Dear under-song in clamor’s hour.

These words exemplify Coleridge’s essence; a poet of the natural, the supernatural, the surrealistic and of intrinsic love. Read the full poem.  

I’d like to conclude this brief peek into the soul of Coleridge by referring to another love poem entitled Love. This poem is a ballad, a short narrative tale encapsulating two stories. One is a tale of a woeful Knight who pines and dies for his love, and the other is the story of the poet who is relating the story of the knight to Genevieve, in order to win her love. He uses the story of the knight to focus on his own battle for love. Typically here,  Coleridge swings from the dreamlike tale of a medieval knight to the real tangible love he is feeling for Genevieve.

The knight is refused by his lady and after struggling with his efforts to win her, he wanders off and goes mad.

But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night;

Eventually, after saving her from a “murderous band”, his lady realises that the love he had felt for her was indeed deep and sincere.  As he lies  on death’s door, she accepts him and although he regains his sanity, he sadly dies. The story is a sad and romantic one, but as I mentioned, it is a story to highlight another story, the poet’s real situation of love:

I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love,
Interpreted my own.

The poet believed that the imaginary tale from afar would fill his Genevieve with empathy and pity for the suffering of that knight. Therefore, he hoped that Genevieve would feel the same love and pity for the poet himself, the teller of the tale. He attempted to secure her love by portraying this very sad story and the happy conclusion of the ballad is the climax of this achievement:

She wept with pity and delight,
She blushed with love, and virgin-shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name. Her bosom heaved—she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stepped—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept.
She half enclosed me with her arms,
She pressed me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.
‘Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly ’twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.
I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.

Full poem here

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an ethereal, yet very sensual human being and his poetry is testimony to this. The best way to conclude this short piece is with his the poet’s own word:

As I live and am a man, this is an unexaggerated tale – my dreams become the substances of my life.

Take ownership of UN-aligned

Unlike most organisations, UN-aligned is, primarily, its members. We are the New United Nations and though just a drop in the ocean, for now, we will carry on growing until we will become a force to be reckoned with!

The more of us there are, the more chance we have of achieving our aims. Help us by promoting membership to you friends or to people you think have similar values. If every member added another, membership would snowball and we would be unstoppable!

We also need active members: people who roll up their sleeves and contribute to the work of the organisation. Some already have, for instance, by writing articles for The Gordian, or offering to help with proofreading.

No matter what you can do, we want you. Write to us with your talents and we’ll make it work. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on whatsapp


The social ills equation… Minus inevitability

“Disaster… it could happen to anyone.” Think about it too much and you will go mad: that endless list of slings and arrows. Yes, it could happen to anyone, but it is best to plod along as though it could never happen to us. Perhaps they deserved it. Karma. Their suffering is like a parallel universe: it need never touch us…

In this issue of The Gordian, we cover various social issues ranging from rough sleeping to poverty. 

This issue contains exclusive reports by, our literary editor, Alex Liberto, and other UN-aligned members, namely Jay DavisandCarla Pietrobattista. The editors are Adrian Liberto and Ariana Yekrangi.


Login to your account
Are you a new user? Sign up

Subscribe to the The Gordian magazine and more...

The Gordian is the official UN-aligned magazine. It is a round-up of global news, opinions and long reads accompanied by striking photography. It also keeps you updated about UN-aligned’s progress and impact in the real word.

We promise not to spam your inbox.  Find how we use your information.

Or become a free member.

UN-aligned uses cookies to make this website better.