Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'

STC, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).

Hundreds of thousands have written and published poetry over the centuries, and very, very few of them wrote poems that are still worth reading. An even smaller number might be justifiably called ‘original’. STC was one of these, and he produced a body of work that is unlike anyone else’s. Before he wrecked his talent on an excess of Drugs and Wordsworth which both had a disasterous effect on his lack of self-confidence, he produced some of the outstanding poems in English.

It’s hard to believe now that Wordsworth was embarassed by The Rime and even tried to drop it from later editions of ‘Lyrical ballads’, claiming it had been ‘an injury to the volume’. But this was the man who dumped the first part of Christobel.

It’s even harder to believe the reaction to the poem amongst some of the critics: ‘A poem of little merit’ said one, another, Charles Burney, in the Monthly Review, wrote ‘..the strangest story of a cock and a bull that we ever saw on paper; yet, though it seems a rhapsody of unintelligble wildness and incoherrence, (of which we do not perceive the drift, unless the joke lies in depriving the wedding guest of his share of the feast) there are in it poetical touches of an exquisite kind’.

This is taken from Coleridge, sellected poems, Edited by Richard Holmes.

Anyone interested in Coleridge should read Holmes’ 2 volume biography, which is one of the great literary biographies.