Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the greatest writers of his time period. Although not strictly a poet, his poetry has lasted the test of time, entertaining readers for many years. From the story of the dream land called "Kubla Khan," to the story of an unlucky seaman in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Coleridge's writing was always wildly imaginative and showed many aspects of his troubled life.

Coleridge was born on October 21, 1772, in Devonshire, England. The thirteenth child of a minister and school master, Coleridge entered Christ's Hospital to study in London at the age of 10 (Tucker 324). It was here that Coleridge met his lifelong friend Charles Lamb. Lamb reflected on this friendship in the essay he wrote, "Christ's Hospital at Five-and-Thirty Years Ago," which is clearly written about his companion Coleridge (Magill 623). Coleridge quickly gained recognition for his scholarship at Christ's Hospital, but gained even more recognition at Cambridge University, where he began studies in 1791 (Tucker 324).

He never completed the work required to get his degree and fled the university in 1793, overwhelmed by debt . Shortly thereafter, he met Robert Southey and began making plans for a utopian community. Their utopian idea was called Pantisocracy. Southey was engaged to Edith Fricker, and Coleridge thought it appropriate to engage himself to Edith's sister, Sara, for the sake of their future community. Although their utopian idealism fell through, Coleridge was still engaged to marry a woman that he did not love (Magill 623).

Once married, Coleridge had to desert the university in favor of making a living for his wife and eventually his three kids. Coleridge was only able to support his family through the generosity of his friends. It was during these first few years of his marriage that Coleridge maintained his closest relationship with friend and fellow poet, William Wordsworth. Under the inspiration of Wordsworth, Coleridge managed to produce some of his best poetry.

Wordsworth brought out the best in Coleridge, and Coleridge, in turn, did the same for Wordsworth. In 1798, the two collaborated on the poetic masterpiece, Lyrical Ballads. It is this compilation of poetry that ushered in the Romantic period (Magill 623). One of the most highly proclaimed works of Lyrical Ballads was Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is a wild, mystical, and picturesque narrative that in many ways is a splendid dream (Moulton 218). Coleridge tells a story of an old seaman who is forced to randomly tell his tale of brutal suffering to people he meets in town. In this case, the mariner stops a man on his way to a wedding to tell his chilling story.

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