Romanticism in English literature essay
The interpretation of the poems "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Coleridge and "The Torn" by Wordsworth.
What is the main symbolism of the two poems?
Why is "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Coleridge considered to be an autobiographical poem?
How is "The Torn" by Wordsworth related to romanticism?
If to take poems: "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Coleridge and "The Torn" by Wordsworth we would find a lot of similarities in the works of them both. It's obvious because these works belong to the same epoch and were written by the influence of lyricism and romantic ballads style, with the origins that come back to the time of middle Ages.
Romanticism in English literature essay
Introduction: The literary works of Romanticism in English literature show the richness of the inner world of a person, his dreams and open the beautiful and mysterious aspects of one's soul, using literary methods of comparison and fantasy. The symbolism of these poems has a deep meaning and the way they are interpreted allows the reader to feel and experience those emotions and ideas that were the primary purpose of the author to be reflected in the works. If to take the poems of two famous representatives of English Romanticism: Coleridge and Wordsworth we would definitely find out that under the beautiful and charming narration in their poems their personal life experience is hidden, or probably the works reflect the events that directly refer to their lives or occasions that happened to people they knew.Being in friendly terms Coleridge and Wordthworth had close professional relations as well; they both mutually influenced their literary works. If to take poems: "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Coleridge and "The Torn" by Wordsworth we would find a lot of similarities in the works of them both. It's obvious because these works belong to the same epoch and were written by the influence of lyricism and romantic ballads style, with the origins that come back to the time of middle Ages.
Coleredge's poem "Rime of Ancient Mariner" was started together with Wordsworth, while they were traveling in 1797. As Wordsworth wrote later: "Accordingly we set off and proceeded along the Quantock Hills towards Watchet, and in the course of this walk was planned the poem of the "Ancient Mariner", founded on a dream, as Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend, Mr. Cruikshank. Much the greatest part of the story was Mr. Coleridge's invention; but certain parts I myself suggested: -- for example, some crime was to be committed which should bring upon the old Navigator, as Coleridge afterwards delighted to call him, the spectral persecution, as a consequence of that crime, and his own wanderings. I had been reading in Shelvock's Voyages a day or two before that while doubling Cape Horn they frequently saw Albatrosses in that latitude, the largest sort of sea-fowl, some extending their wings twelve or fifteen feet. 'Suppose', said I, 'you represent him as having killed one of these birds on entering the South Sea, and that the tutelary Spirits of those regions take upon them to avenge the crime.' The incident was thought fit for the purpose and adopted accordingly."
Many critics consider "The Rime of Ancient Mariner" to be an autobiographical poem, arguing that it has a lot of mystic features that intercepted with strange and imaginary scenes in the plot of the story. Another evidence for this judgment is that he was very addicted to opium, when writing this poem, but nevertheless this poem takes one of the top places among the Romantic ballads of the eighteenth century.
Coleredge's method of narrating differs by the use of exotic and supernatural elements into the plot as well as by the use of modern English for narration in the form of archaic ballad. The scenes described in the poem are very vivid and believable: word-pictures are sometimes full of horror, unimaginable beauty that can be easily reproduced in one's imagination with all the variety of senses and emotions, as if they were experienced by the ready in reality.But according to critics of Wordsworth on "The Rime of Ancient mariner" it had several weak points in its construction and the development of events. First as he mentions there, principal person doesn't have a distinct character neither as a sailor nor as a person. All actions of the hero are described from the perspective of the impressions that he got under the impression of supernatural events that took place on the ship. Wordsworth also mentions that the hero doesn't act in the development of the plot, as well as the events that are describes in the poem often have no connection with each other and happen separately. Also he criticizes the presence of the variety of scenes that are full of fantastic and mystic features. But also as he notices: "…Yet the Poem contains many delicate touches of passion, and indeed the passion is every where true to nature; a great number of the stanzas present beautiful images, and are expressed with unusual felicity of language; and the versification, though the metre is itself unfit for long poems, is harmonious and artfully varied exhibiting the utmost powers of that metre, and every variety of which it is capable. It therefore appeared to me that these several merits (the first of which, namely that of the passion, is of the highest kind,) gave to the Poem a value which is not often possessed by better Poems".
The theme of the poem "Thorn" is also associated with symbolism and mysticism as the poem of Coleredge “The Rime the Ancient Mariner”. It tells about unhappy love of a woman told in the fantastic and gothic manner, reflecting her grief and sorrow and making an analogy of her life with "old thorn". The theme of the thorn bush was probably borrowed from the episode in Bible, when Jesus Christ was "honored" with wreath made of thorn by Roman soldiers. The techniques that Wordsworth uses in the poem of nature description and making analogies between the thorn bush and a pond and the life of that woman help us to understand better her emotions and her tragedy in general. And the description of nature that Wordsworth uses in the poem is the best way to do it.
In difference from Colleredge's poem where the narration is made from the behalf of the first face and we may think that the Mariner is the author, "Thorn" is not told from the author's person, but the character that executes the role of narrator is shown later. As Wordsworth wrote about the poem:
Conclusion: "It was my wish in this poem to show the manner in which such men cleave to the same ideas; and to follow the turns of passion, always different, yet not palpably different, by which their conversation is swayed. I had two objects to attain; first, to represent a picture which should not be unimpressive yet consistent with the character that should describe it, secondly, while I adhered to the style in which such persons describe, to take care that words, which in their minds are impregnated with passion, should likewise convey passion to Readers who are not accustomed to sympathize with men feeling in that manner, or using such language. It seemed to me that this might be done by calling in the assistance of lyrical and rapid Metre. It was necessary that the Poem, to be natural, should in reality move slowly; yet I hoped, that, by the aid of the metre, to those who should at all enter into the spirit of the Poem, it would appear to move quickly. The Reader will have the kindness to excuse this note as I am sensible that an introductory poem is necessary to give this Poem its full effect." 3
The original way of narration and the influence of Medieval literature on the lyrical ballads of Wordsworth and Coleredge gives them a unique sound that combines the relatively modern literary methods (for eighteenth century) with Old English ballad's techniques. The scenes and themes that are touched in these poems unite human inner world with the world of fantasy and mystics, which is common for Romanticism and at the same time they open the internal sides of the human soul.
1. Wordsworth, W. (1800) Note to 'The Thorn', Lyrical Ballads 2nd edition [online] 2. Wordsworth, W. (1800) Note to the Ancient Mariner [online]
3. Coleridge, S.T. (1798) The Rime of the Ancient Mariner [online]
4. Wordsworth, W. (1798) The Thorn [online]
5. Wordsworth, W. (1802) Preface to Lyrical Ballads [online] accessed at:
6. Wordsworth, W., Coleridge, S.T. (1802) Preface to Lyrical Ballads [online]
7. Treadwell, J. (2000) Innovation and Strangeness; or, Dialogue and Monologue in the 1798 Lyrical Ballads