Samuel Taylor Coleridge Questions and Answers

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Does "Dejection: an Ode" contain any elements of what comprises Romanticism? Discuss and provide examples.

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Romantic poetry typically testifies to the beauty and power of the natural world. In “Dejection: An Ode,” Coleridge frequently alludes to the power of nature. He refers to “a deadly storm,” “the slant night-shower driving loud and fast,” and the wind “that rav’st without.” Nature is also presented as powerful in the sense that it has the power to transport the speaker from his earthly troubles to some otherworldly, spiritual realm. The speaker says that the sounds of the storm “Oft have raised (him), whilst they awed / And sent (his) soul abroad.”

Coleridge also celebrates, in this poem, the beauty of nature. At the end of the second stanza, the speaker describes the stars “that glide . . . Now sparkling” and the moon “In its own cloudless starless lake of blue.” At the end of the stanza, the speaker, describing the stars once more, declares, “how beautiful they are!”

Romantic poetry also celebrates the power and the importance of the human imagination. In stanza six, the speaker describes his “shaping spirit of Imagination,” and in stanza seven he describes, metaphorically, the “viper thoughts that coil around (his) mind.” In this metaphor, the speaker’s imagination is powerful in a negative sense. It suffocates him and threatens to poison his mind, just as a viper might suffocate and poison the person whose neck it coils itself around.

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