Beyond the Poem
Here, Mays returns to important questions that were raised in the opening chapter and, with the benefit of the intervening discussion, suggests answers within a broader frame of reference. Dejection Ode is taken as the central text of a poet-philosopher (as distinct from philosophic poet) for the manner in which it applies the resources of verse to the process of conceptual understanding. Such an enterprise positions Coleridge obliquely to the main English literary tradition, but in a way that challenges a range of present-day assumptions. A fresh reading of “Work without Hope”—a poem often read as a late despairing restatement of Dejection Ode—is used to cement the argument.