Wordsworth and Coleridge: Promising Losses (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
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Wordsworth and Coleridge Peter Larkin. Wordsworth and Coleridge P. Published by Palgrave Macmillan New Quantity Available: 1. Published by AIAA New Paperback Quantity Available: Wordsworth and Coleridge: Promising Losses P.
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But his interests had guided him to Europe and to British Romanticism, to Wordsworth and to Coleridge. By early , the year in which Emerson arrived in England, Wordsworth and Coleridge were already well established as poets and thinkers, and were celebrated members of the British literary scene. The two had lived in close company over thirty years prior, first as neighbours in Nether Stowey in Somerset, next in neighbouring villages in the Lake District. It was in Somerset that they had collaborated on their great joint work, the Lyrical Ballads of But, by , Wordsworth and Coleridge were changed men.
They had all but fallen out of contact, and the idyllic life of a poet amongst nature was over for Coleridge, who had long since moved to London. After the early days with Wordsworth, he had suffered ongoing battles with opium addiction, weight gain and loss, unhappy marriage, unrequited love, the death of a child, and near-intolerable depression. He was publishing much, though his work was met with tepid reviews, and he would never fully recapture the glory of the period. He had lived in London for much of his life after the early years of the nineteenth century, which was when his relationship with Wordsworth had first begun to sour.
The Wordsworths felt Coleridge was neglecting his responsibilities as husband and father, and saw that he was growing increasingly selfish. Though they would be reconciled some years later and would go on to speak of each other with some affection, their friendship never regained its former profound closeness.
Wordsworth, though, was still living amongst the Lakes when Emerson came to call, but his life was also very different to the productive younger years. Forced by the need to provide for his family, he was now working as the distributor of stamps for the Penrith area of the Lakes. In honoured poverty thy voice did weave Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,— Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve, Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be. Both poets were, by s, tamer beasts than their younger, wilder selves.
Their political radicalism was behind them, their experiments in poetic language displaced by more formal voices, their mystical relationship with divinity replaced by an orthodox adherence to Christianity. In short, they had become Victorian poets. Emerson, seasick and sorrowful aboard his creaking vessel, arrived in Valetta in Malta with some relief, in early February, Immediately he began to feel the removal of a weight from his spirit, as things brightened for him in the southern European climes.
From Malta he wound slowly on to Sicily, up through mainland Italy, and on through France. He journeyed slowly, savouring the delights and delicacies of the continent, but always kept on the horizon the idea of Great Britain. His only real reason for staying in the city was to visit Coleridge, which he wasted no time in doing.
On the 5th of August he arrived at the Grove, Highgate, and made arrangements to meet with the great poet. Coleridge in Hauling himself up to the second floor, Emerson entered and found Coleridge in a cramped apartment, overflowing with papers and books, and littered with letters and manuscripts. There was a single window that overlooked Hampstead Heath, a framed version of the wild and endless landscape that had coloured his youthful writings.
Emerson reports a lengthy and roaming discussion of the Unitarian faith by his host, but details quickly become scant.