What is S.T. Coleridge's influence on William Wordsworth's poetry?I would like to know about Coleridge's relationship with Wordsworth and how he helped and influenced Wordsworth's works.

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sanukriti59 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge formed a relation of both admiration and criticism. They played an important role in inspiring each others work and also critiquing their individual creative efforts. From 1797 to 1802 the two poets along with Wordsworth's sister Dorothy shared common passionate interests towards nature and the landscape in and around  Lake District. Their dialogues gave each other a great insight into the nature of poetry which was described by Coleridge- "During the fisrt year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversations turned frequrently on the two cardinal points of poetry, thew power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination"(Biographia, xiv)Their poetic interests and psychologial dependency was a remarkable feature of their long term collaboration.

On their walking tours to Germany and England they would discuss ideas, farme philosophies write and revise poetries. The collaboratin between the two poets led to some of the greatest poetries written by them. Wodrsworth's wrote a series of poems to describe himself, Coleridge and their collaboration in 1802 that resulted in Lyrical Ballads. Coleridge in 1797 helped Wodrsworth get a place in Alfoxden, which along with its beautiful surroundings became a center for poetic creation for both the men.

The works of Wordsworth such as Ode: Imitations of Immorality  and those of Coleridge Dejection: An Ode;  share the common subject of "loss". Wordsworth's The Prelude and Coleridge's France, An Ode and Fears in Solitude- describe the effect of the French Revolution, Industrial Revolution and the political unstability on the minds and spirit of the two poets. They both were influenced by the philosophies of people like Kant, Schelling, Rousseau, Godwin, Hobbes, Locke, Hartley, Berkeley and Hume. Both were specifically greatly influenced by David Hartley's ideia of Association of Ideas, though in the later periods Coleridge drifted from these and gave them his own meaning.

A reading of Coleridge's letters suggest that very often he regarded Wordsworth as a greater man giving him insights to construct a philosophy of literature while many critics have suggested that it was Coleridge who had evolved a philosophical belief for Wordsworth to follow. Whatever the truth might be, it is undoubtful that the collaboration was a kind of symbiosis of the two creative minds.


mathy101 | Student

Coleridge himself wrote in his famous Biographia Literaria that Lyrical Ballads is half a child of his own brain. This goes as far as pointing to us that their association was more literary than any other. 

Wordsworth is rumoured to have been in constant use of opium as a source of inspiration and I have cause to believe that Coleridge influenced him in that area as Coleridge is known for his notoriety in the use of opium as a relaxant.

Wordsworth's poetic ideas stated in the famous Preface to the Lyrical Ballads were also influenced by Coleridge as he said in his Biographia Literaria. The idea that they both believed in Aristotle's concept of poetry as being the most philosophical of all languages which communicates truth is a pointer to this fact. This philosophy was adopted by Coleridge as he is known for his liason with alot of philosophical ideologies which he ascertains in his Biographia Literaria. Wordsworth also dubs this philosophy in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads. 

Wordsworth pantheism is also a consequence of his long association with Coleridge. 

Alot of things both literary and otherwise came out of their association. One will not be able to state all in a single discourse but the main emphasis has been highlighted by this first writer to reply this post. What I just did was to add a minute amount of details. I do hope ur question has been resolved.