T. Coleridge as poet | Theme of guilt and redemption as represented in the rime of the Ancient Mariner

T. Coleridge as poet | Theme of guilt and redemption as represented in the rime of the Ancient Mariner

T. Coleridge as poet

Main Characteristics of Coleridge’s poetry are as under……


The three major works of Coleridge. The Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan and Cristobel all deal with supernatural phenomena. As a poet of the supernatural, Coleridge kept himself away from the crudeness found in the writings of Horace Walpole and Mind Lewis who revelled in cheap thrills. Coleridge replaced crudeness with suggestiveness. He did not portray harrow, he suggested it. Both in the cases of the Night- mare Life-in-Death and the serpent-woman Geraldine, and he did not depict their hideous monstrosity. He conveys the gruesomeness of Life-in-Death in a few suggestive lines:

Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gole:

Her skin was white as leprosy,

The Night-mare Life-in-Death was she,

Who Chicks Man’s blood with cold

His device of excluding the derailed descriptions also enables hams to keep the reality of the supernatural phenomena vague and indeterminate. and to deepen the mystery surrounding them again in his supernaturalism he preserves the essential psychological truth. The supernatural touches in Kubla Khan or The Ancient Mariner are so managed that they are in perfect harmony with the mental and emotional moulds of the characters as well as the readers. The ancestral voices heard by Kubla Khan prophesy war. The supernatural drama of The Ancient Mariner fits the Mariners’, moods so properly that one can easily interpret it as taking place on the inner stage of his sub-conscious mind. Thirdly; Coleridge made the supernatural, as in Homer and Shakespeare, a sub ornate element in a wider scheme intimately related to living human experience.

Element of Mystery-

Coleridge possesses and unusual fifth of evoking the mystery of things. The Ancient Mariner is made a mysteries character just by the mention of this glittering eye. Long grey beard and skinny hand Geraldine looks mysterious because of the circumstances in which she makes her appearance. Her being ‘Beautiful exceedingly’ also contributes to her mysteriousness. But Coleridge has made a limited use of this faculty ‘while making the ordinary natural phenomena for example-

  1. The rising of the sun and the moon.
  2. The blowing of the winds.
  3. The thinking of the stars.
  4. Mast-high ice sending a dismal sheen and making cracking and growling sound.
  5. The bizarre spectacle of the death-fires dancing in reel and rout.
  6. Water burning green, and blue and white like a witch’s oils.

In the poem Kubla Khan, the romantic chasm is given a touch of mystery by the mention of the woman wailing for her demon-lower.

Rich imagination-

Coleridge possessed the most vigorous imagination among all the romantic poets. In the exercise of his imagination, he is bolder than words worth. Coleridge could with the help of imagination seize upon suitable facts from his reading. And portray them as vividly as if they have been literally present before his eyes. He read a single ling in Purchas’s Pilgrimage that Kubla Khan commanded a palace to be bolt. And a stately garden thereunto. It set his imagination on fire and we have vivid delineation of Kubla Khan’s stately pleasure palace.

Dream Quality-

Coleridge fed on his dreams and vitalized them in his poems. Kubla Khan is, in fact, a dream poem recounting in a poetic form what he saw in a vision. The Ancient Mariner comes from Cruikshank’s dream. This dreamlike texture of Coleridge’s poems gives them a kind of twilight vagueness which deepens their mystery.


Coleridge was fascinated by the romances and legends associated with them. In that Age the people were superstitious a believed in the supernatural. Coleridge found in their life plenty to write about. The Ancient Mariner, Cristabel and Kubla Khan and the ballad Love, all contain the glamour of the Middle Ages. However, medievalism does not form the substance of his poems. It gives them the much-needed sense of remoteness. Even in Cristabel, where we have a medieval castle as the scene of action, the allusions to chivalry, and battles are not very precise.

Love of Nature-

Coleridge shows profound love for Nature. However, as pointed out by Bora, his tads richer and more luxurious pleasure in those aspects of Nature that can present a dramatic and mysterious look. Whether his descriptions are based on his personal experiences or on what he has read, he always gives them a semblance of truth The iceberg around the ship, although not seen by anyone look lively and realistic. The hoary, majestic, sky-pointing peas of Mont Blame in his poem Hymn Before sunrise are vivid. He can evoke the richness of colour as well as the magical associations of sound much better than any other poet.

Meditative Note-

Coleridge was gifted with a reflective and speculative temper. A reflective note is quite evident in his early poems like Frost at midnight and Reflections on Having Lift a Place of Retirement. In Frost at Midnight, he reflects on his own past boyhood and on his son Hartley’s future, He expresses his thoughts on Nature. Reflections on having left a place of Retirement presents his thoughts on his going away to the valley of seclusion’ where the green and woody landscape could refer his eyes. Dejection- An ode is also written in a meditative mood.


 Like words worth, Coleridge supported the French Revolution in the hope that it would emancipate the masses from the tyranny of the despotic lords. But when Coleridge discovered that the revolutionists were perverting or violation the very principles they had stood for, he condemned them in his France an Ode. His love for humanity is also expressed in Reflection on Having Left a Place of Retirement. In this poem he gives up his cottage in order to go to the city and serve the suffering humanity, In the Ancient Mariner also we find Coleridge’s love of humanity.


It is viewed by Court hope that in almost all his poems, there is a tendency to approximate the art of poetry to the art of music. Coleridge’s musical genius can best be seen in such poems as. The Ancient Mariner Cristobel, Kubla Khan, Youth and Age, The sight, etc. In The Ancient Mariner, he has produced music with the help of internal rhyme or by clever use of alliteration:

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around:

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a sound!

His Cristabel or Kubla Khan also is rich in musical quality.

Narrative Skill-

Coleridge knows it well how to create suspense or to evoke interest in the narrative. In the Ancient Mariner, he invests the Mariner with a hypnotic power in order to rouse our curiosity in his story. BBHe introduces his events very dramatically. Herrings the spectre-ship gradually close to view, and creates a hush or expectancy before Death. Two hundred sailors curse the Mariner and dropping sown dead one by one, with their souls passing by him like whiz of his crossbow (Reminding him of the murder of the Albatross) also produce a very dramatic effect.


To conclude, Coleridge is the most complete representative of the English Romantic poetry of the early nineteenth century.

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