Samuel Taylor Coleridge Questions and Answers

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Write the critical appreciation of "Dejection: An Ode" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

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The meter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Dejection: An Ode" is iambic pentameter, with variations of trimeter and tetrameter. Here follows an example of flawless metric variation as it moves from pentameter to trimeter and back to pentameter:

Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind,    
Reality’s dark dream!         
I turn from you, and listen to the wind,    
Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream    
Of agony by torture lengthened out    
That lute sent forth! ...,

The theme of the poem is an exploration and contemplation of the feeling of dejection, with special attention to its relationship to Fancy and Imagination. His contemplation which is inspired by stormy weather and his later Fancy (see below for "Fancy") of a little lost child:

’Tis of a little child,    
Upon a lonesome wild,    
Not far from home, but she hath lost her way;    
And now moans low in bitter grief and fear,    
And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother hear..

The ode starts with a discussion of stormy weather ("I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling / The coming-on of rain and squally blast,") and switches to the poet's reflections on his own feelings and experience ("Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed / And sent my soul abroad,").

Coleridge interjects the hope of "Joy"--which can flirt and play with ("dallied") distress and lessen its power--and then makes an association with Fancy and Imagination. Coleridge describes a time of distress when Fancy could still weave "dreams of happiness" then alludes the present when he is even more weighed down and even Imagination is afflicted and "suspended."

For the Romantic poets, Fancy is the idea forming power that builds associations between ideas that are already known. Imagination, by contrast, is the governing cognitive power that is responsible for both reason/rationality and creativity, thus Coleridge calls it "what nature gave me at my birth, / My shaping spirit of Imagination."

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