• Graham Davidson


My conclusion is of course that Coleridge is a hero — and not a tragic hero, such as Thomas McFarland has made of him, looking squarely down the barrel of a gun, knowing all that he can do is die, unable to resolve the epistemological conflict that has no resolution, and which is everyman’s tragedy, were everyman big enough to face it: and not of course a defeated hero, the marvelous poet who gave up poetry for metaphysics, turning his face to the wall (in this vignette played by Christian) and his back upon the vasty deep where we now sail, more or less rudderless. Rather I think of Coleridge as having a clear vision of where he would find his home, knowing that it would not be in this world (Charles Lamb spoke of him in his last days as having a kind of hunger for eternity) but at the same time profoundly aware that terrestrial charts can only be made by celestial observation; this life and that life not successive states, but the one permanent and the way of reading and giving vitality to the other — which is a language and form of expression. And for Coleridge, making the journey and making the charts were closely related activities: his was not the detached experiment with a religious or philosophical system, which Eliot believed the legitimate activity of a poet.


Clear Vision Historical Moment Good Mood Legitimate Activity Violent Assault 
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© Graham Davidson 1990

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  • Graham Davidson

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