Discuss the similarity and difference between Wordsworth & Coleridge as Romantic poets.Please take excerpts from The Prelude, Kubla Khan, and Dejection.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The youthful Wordsworth and Coleridge were alike in being radical critics of the social order. Both wanted to write a new form of poetry which was not based on classical literature, rationality, and rhyming couplets. They wanted to compose poems that reflected, in direct, passionate language, feelings and situations not normally depicted in eighteenth century verse. For these reasons, they collaborated on the ground-breaking Lyrical Ballads. All three of the poems discussed below are alike in their direct in depiction of the poet's emotions. Each also represents a shift in language from the even, measured prose of neoclassical poems.

The differences between Wordsworth and Coleridge are summed up by Coleridge in chapter 14 of his Biographia Literaria:

My endeavors would be directed to persons and characters supernatural—Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was . . . to give charm of novelty to things of everyday.

This can be seen in the three poems mentioned. First, in "Dejection an Ode," Coleridge contrasts Wordsworth's ability to find solace in nature with his own inability to do so, writing, "It were a vain endeavour."

He continues, writing:

Though I should gaze for ever / On that green light that lingers in the west: /I may not hope from outward forms to win / The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

In other words, nature—"outward forms"—can't solace his inward spirit, as they can Wordsworth. Coleridge is more inward directed, more imaginative, and more fanciful. 

"Kubla Khan" and The Prelude illustrate well the two men's differences as poets. "Kubla Khan" is Coleridge's exotic dream of a mythic Orient, far removed from what might be experienced in ordinary English life. If it is not about the supernatural, per se, it depicts a fantastic dream world:

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !

In contrast, The Prelude, Wordsworth's book-length masterpiece, is autobiographical and prosaic, set in the real world of England, the Alps, and France. In it, Wordsworth describes  his development of a poetic vision based on his desire to elevate the ordinary, lower-class person in the eyes of middle-class reader, as well as to show everyday nature as sublime and healing. An example of Wordsworth's more reality-based vision can be seen in the following verse from The Prelude:

The earth was all before me. With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Wordsworth and Coleridge were both Romantic poets and personal friends, their style and approaches to literary composition differed. Wordsworth's "Prelude" is written in blank verse, using very simple colloquial language and emphasizing autobiographical subject matter. He tended to romanticize the beauties of the ordinary and everyday life.

Coleridge, on the other hand, in Kubla Khan, is using an irregular but rhymed ode form, taking as its subject matter a dream vision of an exotic eastern monarch. He is more of a Platonist than Wordsworth, evoking an ideal world of beauty created in the mind of the artist. His language and imagery are far more ornate than those of Wordsworth, and his work has greater overt literary and artisitc influences, and less emphasis on the pastoral and the daily life of rural England.

yakta | Student

Although Wordsworth and Coleridge were both Romantic poets and personal friends, their style and approaches to literary composition differed. Wordsworth's "Prelude" is written in blank verse, using very simple colloquial language and emphasizing autobiographical subject matter. He tended to romanticize the beauties of the ordinary and everyday life.