Samuel Taylor Coleridge Questions and Answers

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How is Coleridge representative of Romantic poets?

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his work represented a movement away from the Enlightenment and toward the Romantic Period. As a Romantic poet, Coleridge contributed to a body of work that sought to use nature and fantastical themes to lead readers to a source of purpose and value based on one’s connection with and response to nature, as well as other metaphysical concepts. His strongest introduction to these concepts came in the form of Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems, a collection of poems written by him and William Wordsworth. One of the concepts Wordsworth introduces is the willing suspension of disbelief: “The temporary acceptance as believable of events or characters that would ordinarily be seen as incredible. This is usually to allow an audience to appreciate works of literature or drama that are exploring unusual ideas” (The Phrase Finder). Enlightenment readers were accustomed to a more logical pursuit of ideas through literature, and suspension of disbelief would have been an unfamiliar exercise to them.

Perhaps Coleridge's two most famous works are “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (included in Lyrical Ballads) and “Kubla Khan” (1797). In the former, Coleridge emphasized aspects of curses and ghosts to induce a sense of fear and suspense. In the latter, he exploited the five senses and imagination to communicate the blurred lines between dreams and reality. In breaking away from rational structure and employing willing suspension of disbelief in these and other works, Coleridge was indeed representative of Romantic poets.