Selected Poems

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Author

Richard Holmes - Editor/introduction

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ISBN 9780140424294 | 400 pages | 01 Nov 2000 | Penguin Classics | 5.07 x 7.79in | 18 - AND UP
Summary of Selected Poems Summary of Selected Poems Reviews for Selected Poems An Excerpt from Selected Poems

With this collection, renowned Colridge biographer Richard Holmes casts new light on the poets sensibilities and accomplishments. Holmes divides the poems into eight categories of theme and genre, dispelling the myth of Coleridge as "the metaphysical dreamer" and rediscovering him as a Romantic autobiographer of tremendous power and range.

At the heart of Selected Poetry  are the Conversation Poems, a unified and beautifully crafted autobiographical sequence written over a period of twelve years. A series of little-known love poems to Asra, which combine understated passion and desperate directness, reflect the depths of Coleridge's feelings for Sara Hutchinson, his unattainable lifelong love. The volume also includes the robust Hill Walking Poems, and the secret agony of the Confessional Poems, as well as previously undervalued later poetry born of Coleridge's restless old age and his ironic reflection on his life.

@RamblinMan But then a storm. Yes, a storm. Struck by a storm. A perfect storm. The Weather Channel said it would be sunny. Assholes!

Can you guess where we ended up? Yeah, the worst place ever. Antarctica. So, so cold. We should have shopped at North Face first.

How cold? Have you been to Chicago? Imagine that, but 100x worse. And with only an all-male crew don’t ask how we stay warm at sea.

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less

Edited with an Introduction by Richard Holmes

List of Poems
The Poet's Chronology
A Note on the Text
Select Bibliography

I. Sonnets
II. Conversation Poems
III. Ballads
IV. Hill Walking Poems
V. Asra Poems
VI. Confessional Poems
VII. Visionary Fragments
VIII. Political, Ideological and Topical Poems
Index of Titles and First Lines


I. Sonnets
1. To the Autumnal Moon 2. Life
3. On Receiving an Account that his Only Sister's Death was Inevitable
4. On Quitting School for College
5. To the River Otter
6. To the Author of The Robbers
7. To the Rev. W.L. Bowles
8. Pantisocracy
9. Pity
10. On Receiving a Letter Informing me of the Birth of a Son
11. Composed on a Journey Homeward
12. To a Friend who Asked, How I Felt
13. On a Ruined House in a Romantic Country
14. To Asra
15. Lady, to Death we're Doomed...
16. Farewell to Love
17. Fancy in Nubibus
18. To Nature
19. Work Without Hope
20. Duty Surviving Self-Love
21. To the Young Artist

II. Conversation Poems
22. To a Friend (Charles Lamb)
23. The Eolian Harp
24. Reflections on Having Left a Place of Retirement
25. To the Rev. George Coleridge
26. This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
27. Frost at Midnight
28. Fears in Solitude
29. The Nightingale
30. To William Wordsworth

III. Ballads
31. The Three Graves
32. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
33. Christabel
34. The Ballad of the Dark Ladié
35. Love 36. Alice Du Clos

IV. Hill Walking Poems
37. Lines Composed while Climbing the Left Ascent of Brockley Coomb, Somersetshire, May 1795
38. To a Young Friend on his Proposing to Domesticate with the Author
39. Lines Written in the Album at Elbingerode, in the Hartz Forest
40. A Thought Suggested by a View of Saddleback in Cumberland
41. Inscription for a Fountain on a Heath
42. A Stranger Minstrel
43. Hymn before Sun-Rise, in the Vale of Chamouni
44. The Picture, or The Lover's Resolution

V. Asra Poems
45. The Keepsake
46. The Language of Birds
47. A Day-Dream: My Eyes Make Pictures
48. The Day-Dream: If Thou Wert Here
49. A Letter to Sara Hutchinson
50. Dejection: An Ode
51. Separation
52. Phantom
53. O Sara! Never Rashly Let Me Go
54. Ad Vilmum Axiologum
55. You Mould My Hopes
56. An Angel Visitant
57. Recollections of Love
58. Constancy to an Ideal Object

VI. Confessional Poems
59. An Ode to the Rain
60. The Pains of Sleep
61. To Two Sisters
62. A Tombless Epitaph
63. The Pang More Sharp Than All
64. Hope and Time
65. The Suicide's Argument
66. The Visionary Hope
67. Human Life
68. Limbo
69. Youth and Age
70. The Garden of Boccaccio
71. Phantom or Fact
72. Love's Apparition and Evanishment
73. Epitaph

VII. Visionary Fragments
74. Kubla Khan
75. The Wanderings of Cain
76. The Mad Monk
77. The Blossoming of the Solitary Date-Tree
78. A Sunset
79. A Dark Sky
80. The Tropic Tree
81. Psyche
82. The Sea Mew
83. The Yellow Hammer
84. On Donne's Poetry
85. The Knight's Tomb
86. Four Metrical Experiments
87. Song from Remorse
88. Song from Zapolya
89. Ars Poetica
90. Aria Spontanea
91. The World That Spidery Witch
92. The Netherlands

VIII. Political, Ideological and Topical Poems
93. An Ode on the Destruction of the Bastille
94. To a Young Ass
95. The Present State of Society (Extract from "Religious Musings") 96. Invisible Powers (Extract from "The Destiny of Nations")
97. Fire, Famine and Slaughter
98. France: An Ode
99. The Devil's Thoughts
100. A Character
101. The Delinquent Travellers

‘A startlingly original book’ Andrew Motion, Guardian

‘Holmes’s footnotes to the poems, and his ordering of them into eight distinct categories, are wonderfully illuminating and enlarging’ Blake Morrison, Independent on Sunday

Student review by Kevin Childs who studied English at Univeristy of Leicester. Currently researching for an MA in English Studies part-time.

There is always something immensely satisfying when reading the poems of Samuel Taylor
Coleridge. As one of the chief architects of the Romantic movement he deserves his place in the
Canon, but beyond this his poems are terrific reads and journeys into the mind of a visionary. Like
the ancient mariner Coleridge is able to hold the reader in a hypnotic act of hearing and seeing even
nearly two hundred years after his death.

One of the brilliant aspects of Coleridge’s poetry is the degree of intensity and emotion lurking
within it. This intensity is unrivalled in his contemporary Romantics; Shelley’s Ode to the Westwind
and Keats’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci are beautiful highly wrought masterpieces but poems such
as the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel seem to ooze emotion and menace. Poets,
particularly the Romantics, have always written from their own inner reservoir of feeling, yet there
is often a degree of detachment whereby the poet hides in the shadows of his poetic voice. With
Coleridge we get the sense the poetic voice is his own voice, raw, anguished and honest. Coleridge
is ‘the bright-eyed mariner’ just as he is Kubla Khan with his ‘flashing eyes and floating hair.’
Knowing this makes reading his work a thought-provoking experience. In contrast to the all
empowering dread and fear encountered in his most famous masterpieces there are poems that
display Coleridge’s sentimental side. There is a truthfulness and vulnerability in poems such as
‘Frost at Midnight’, and ‘Dejection: an Ode’ that make Coleridge endearing to the reader, we get a
sense of not only the poem but the experience itself despite the distance of time and space. It is this
emotional reality that is behind the words, unguarded and authentic, that makes Coleridge’s poetry
truly great.

Coleridge’s poems are also treasure troves of meaning. Here we have poetry that contains hidden
gems of ideas and influences, and language that moves and morphs, as it is being read. Coleridge’s
famous collaborator and friend William Wordsworth wrote poetry depicting the natural world, and
the meaning and significance was in the experience itself. For Coleridge scenes and experiences
contain a hidden reality, characters and words, go beyond their literal meaning and point in other
directions. Behind the shapeshifting language and narrative of his poems is a rich world of ideas
which a reader can choose from as he sees fit. For example Rime of the Ancient Mariner can be read
as a Christian tale of redemption or a gothic nightmare, Christabel can be a story of repressed
female desires, or Demonic possession. The beauty of the work is that it often cannot settle on one
frame, holes and gaps appear which disrupt the order. If the ancient mariner claims to have been
redeemed by God then why is he still bound to his fate of confession, if Geraldine really is a
demonic spirit, why does Christabel’s father Sir Leoline seem to be uncannily in collusion with her.
Even in poems that seem more clear-cut we have hints of a personal world and experience beneath
the most literal interpretation. In The Eolian Harp the harp is a symbol for the ‘one life’ and the
unity of all things Coleridge believed in, but it is also a symbol for love and a yielding female body,
‘The Pangs of Sleep’ is a lament over the Coleridge’s own insomnia and night terrors but also hints
at his underlying fear of persecution and pathological guilt. This elusiveness of meaning and use of
symbols is one of the sublime aspects of Coleridge’s work and what makes it always relevant and
rewarding to read.

This collection of poetry presents Coleridge at his best. We have his masterpieces including the The
Rime of Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan and the ‘Conversation Poems,’ alongside these
we have some of Coleridge’s more obscure and personal poems which shed light on his ideas and
life. Acclaimed Coleridge biographer Richard Holmes editorial arrangement of poems according to
theme, helps bring Coleridge’s work in sharp focus and we get a sense of who the man was.
Reading Coleridge’s poetry is an enthralling journey into the deep recesses of the mind of one the
greatest poets of world literature. The emotion, still present and lingering, and the chameleon like
language and ideas mean that Coleridge will be around for a long time to come.