Falling in love with Sara Hutchinson crystallized Coleridge’s early sensitivities to female bodies, to female warmth, and to female voices, and set the stage for his later loves including his fainter, reduplicated loves for Mrs. Morgan’s sister Charlotte Brent and for Mrs. Anne Gillman. His love for Sara Hutchinson began either on Oct. 26, 1799, when he met her, or four weeks later on Nov. 24, when he held her hand and felt love’s dart envenom him forever (as he wrote in his diary in Latin, to keep his wife from reading it). This love was intensified by entanglement with the Wordsworths, since Sara Hutchinson’s sister Mary was to become William’s wife; Coleridge in loving Wordsworth’s sister-in-law attached himself all the more intimately to the Wordsworth family circle, including Dorothy, whom he loved in a more companionable way. His “passion for SH,” as Dorothy called it in her letters, made him more than usually alert to other women, to their stories, songs, performances, troubles, and triumphs; it overlapped with his appreciation of literary and musical women. It followed the composition of the first part of “Christabel” and coincided with the struggle to galvanize part two of “Christabel,” and to resolve the alternate possible meanings of that poem. It energized his shift from looking at women to listening to them.
KeywordsSecret Message Outer Frame Paradise Lost Love Story True Love
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- 3.John Worthen, The Gang (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 93–95. But see Mays, PW, headnote to #605.Google Scholar
- 4.In Lyrical Ballads 1800 Coleridge calls the poem “Love” and detaches it from its original genesis as “The Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladie.” This “introduction” does not describe the poem “Love” at all, since it promises “cruel wrongs” rather than mutual passions; see R. L. Brett and A. R. Jones, eds., Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads, 2nd edition (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1991), pp. 119–123 and note pp. 298–299. The “pernicious wrongs” mentioned in the attached material in Poetical Works apply to “Christabel,” “The Ballad of the Dark Ladie,” and “The Three Graves” but not to “Love.” To embed “Love” in “The Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladie” as the new edition does is to warp the meaning, to darken the joy.Google Scholar
- 5.J. C. C. Mays, “Coleridge’s ‘Love’: All he can manage, more than he could,” in Coleridge’s Visionary Languages, ed. Tim Fulford and Morton D. Paley (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1993), pp. 49–66, p. 53.Google Scholar
- Tim Fulford, Romanticism and Masculinity (London: Macmillan Press, 1999), pp. 108–110, mentions “Love” briefly, saying that the “knight is a chivalric defender of chastity and propriety—a hero for middle class respectability. The narrator, however, does not act. The poem as a whole is consequently a commentary on Coleridge’s need to derive his masculine authority from another, and it shows that it is by poetic imagination that he can do so.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Morton D. Paley, Coleridge’s Later Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), starts too late to mention the 1799 “Love,” and is too general to note the tangles of passion and jealousy in the later love poems discussed in his chapter four, entitled “Love,” pp. 91–113.Google Scholar
- 8.Eric C. Brown, “Boyd’s Dante, Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, and the Pattern of Infernal Influence,” SEL 38 (1998), 649–655, 647–667. Brown argues that “the inattention to Boyd’s translation is remarkable” (648).Google Scholar
- 10.Paolo Valesio, “Canto V,” in Allen Mandelbaum et al., eds., Inferno: A Canto-by-Canto Commentary (Berkeley: University California Press, 1998), pp. 71–72.Google Scholar
- 11.Jacqueline Pearson, Women’s Reading in Britain: 1750–1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 112.Google Scholar
- 14.Morton Paley, Coleridge’s Later Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 100, mentions the use of courtly love tropes.Google Scholar
- Paul Magnuson, Coleridge and Wordsworth: A Lyrical Dialogue (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 289–308, places Sara at the center of the poem to her.Google Scholar
- 17.Michael Camille, The Medieval Art of Love: Objects and Subjects of Desire (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998), pp. 78–79.Google Scholar
- 19.The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. Edwin W. Marrs, Jr., 3 vols (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1978), pp. 3, 160–162.Google Scholar
- 20.Richard Holmes, Darker Reflections, 1804–34 (New York: Pantheon, 1998), pp. 176–199, only imagines the simmering desires and frustrations as the hopeless lovers lean together near the lamp in the dark room night after night. George Whalley in Coleridge and Sara Hutchinson, pp. 73–74, claims: “That she loved him and had a sympathetic understanding of his condition—an understanding unclouded by illusions—is made clear by her later correspondence with Crabb Robinson,” 1811–1813.Google Scholar