Books

Lyrical Ballads

Samuel Coleridge (and others)

A collection of poems exemplifying Romantic aesthetic ideals, whose unique beauty lies in their revolutionary exploration of the 'overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility', Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads is edited with a note on the text by Michael Schmidt in Penguin Classics.

Published in 1798, Lyrical Ballads is a dazzling collaboration containing twenty-three poems by close friends, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge - two major figures of English Romanticism. The volume heralded a new approach to poetry and expresses the poets' reflections on mankind's relationship with the forces of the world. Coleridge's contribution includes the nightmarish vision of 'The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere', one of the works for which he became best known, as well as the fantastical conversational poem 'The Foster-Mother's Tale' and the melancholic 'The Nightingale'. Wordsworth's 'We are Seven' depicts a child's naïve optimism in the face of the cruel mortality, while 'Goody Blake and Harry Gill' and 'Simon Lee' celebrate the simplicity and strength he perceived in country people, and 'Tintern Abbey' explores the healing powers of nature.

This Penguin Classics edition allows readers to recapture the full impact and power of Lyrical Ballads. It also includes a note on the history of the text by Michael Schmidt.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) has been criticized as a political turn-coat, drug addict and plagiarist whose wrecked career left only a handful of magical early poems. But the shaping influence of his highly imaginative criticism is now generally accepted, and his position, along with that of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), as one of the two great progenitors of the English Romantic spirit is assured. A great innovator, Wordsworth permanently enlarged the range of English poetry both in subject matter and treatment.

If you enjoyed the Lyrical Ballads, you might like Wordsworth's Selected Poems, also available in Penguin Classics.

The Complete Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Coleridge (and others)

One of the major figures of English Romanticism, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) created works of remarkable diversity and imaginative genius. The period of his creative friendship with William Wordsworth inspired some of Coleridge's best-known poems, from the nightmarish vision of the 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and the opium-inspired 'Kubla Khan' to the sombre passion of 'Dejection: An Ode' and the medieval ballad 'Christabel'. His meditative 'conversation' poems, such as 'Frost at Midnight' and 'This Lime-Tree Bower Mr Prison', reflect on remembrance and solitude, while late works, such as 'Youth and Age' and 'Constancy to an Ideal Object', are haunting meditations on mortality and lost love.

Selected Poetry

Samuel Coleridge (and others)

Living in a revolutionary age, Coleridge's poetry was written in a spirit of moral and emotional inquiry into the absolutes of the human condition. He is best known for his visionary poetry ('Kubla Khan') and his ballads ('The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'), but he used and transformed a variety of verse forms, from the sonnet to the conversation poem, on subjects as diverse as nature, love, and politics. This selection calls attention to the range of Coleridge's work, its strong autobiographical content,and its artistic development throughout his career. The old chronological form has been abandoned and the poems are organised according to genre, with each section displaying its own individual development in craft and theme.

Biography

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834) was one of the first figures of the Romantic movement, and a poet, philosopher and critic. His close friendship with Dorothy and William Wordsworth, whom he met in 1797, led to the publication of the "Lyrical Ballads", which marked a conscious break with poetic tradition and includes one of Coleridge's most famous poems, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner".
William Keach is Professor of English at Brown University in Rhode Island. He has published many books and articles on Renaissance and Romantic literature.