Language and Allusion
The language of the Ode is of a particular kind, containing layers of meaning that often reverse and contradict each other, and layers of allusion that are not always obvious. The meaning of a word often depends on its etymology and changing history; at other times, it changes as it is heard in a different context. The practice sometimes consolidates meaning, at other times appears to destabilise it, and at all times requires close attention. There are allusions to texts by other authors but most of all to Coleridge’s own: in particular, to his earlier verse. The poem is revealed as a dialogue with his earlier self and a starting point for his later writing, in which changing positions are compared, weighed and adjusted.