Introduction to Coleridge, Philosophy, and Religion

For my paper, I plan on explicating two of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poems in relation to his tenets, views, and life. I chose to focus on Coleridge not only because I studied his work extensively for the group presentation, but also because I find interest in his views as well as enjoy relating these to his poetry. The main ideas and themes that I will be looking at throughout the paper will be Coleridge’s use of the imagination and his philosophical views, as well as his thoughts about religion and God. I think that these will be topics that will definitely delve deeper into Coleridge’s philosophical and religious beliefs. I also plan on finding out if there are any congruences between Coleridge’s philosophical views and his religious beliefs. The poetry that he wrote definitely hints at these topics, so I will be looking at the poetry from these beliefs throughout the paper. The two main poems I am looking at right now are “The Eolian Harp” and “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”. My paper will follow different ideas I have about Coleridge, and use the poems and secondary sources to back up my arguments.

In “The Eolian Harp”, we see the various tenets of Coleridge that were discussed in class, but also a few philosophical ideas that were not discussed in class that I will focus on in my paper. I chose this poem because I have already extensively studied it for the group presentation, and feel confident that I can explicate this poem efficiently and extract deeper implications from the poem. I also think that this poem will help prove and support my arguments in the actual paper very well. As for “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”, Coleridge depicts thoughts and feelings of loneliness and despair that can be attributed to his own life as well as his various tenets. This poem will be a great example of Coleridge’s views and life.

I have found a few secondary sources so far that are specific to my topics. In the publication “ Coleridge on Science, Philosophy, and Poetry: Their Relation to Religion” (The Harvard theological review), Lucyle Werkmeister finds that there is a deep connection between Coleridge’s poetry and his religious and philosophical views, and Werkmeister finds what Coleridge’s philosophies are through this. This will definitely help me develop my paper’s ideas further as I can compare Werkmeister’s ideas of Coleridge’s philosophy to my own.

Another source that I found helpful is “A Reexamination of Coleridge’s ‘The Eolian Harp’” by William H Scheuerle. This is an in-depth explication of “The Eolian Harp” that examines Coleridge’s intentions of the poem as well questions what Coleridge was implying when relating the sound of the harp to nature and God. This source will definitely help to deepen my discussion with interesting views on Coleridge’s intentions.

The final source that I have found so far is “’This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison’ and a Recurrent Action in Coleridge” by R. A. Durr. In this journal article, Durr explores the themes of this poem and relates it to Coleridge’s other poems, deriving certain themes and views of Coleridge. I can use this source to further develop my ideas on this poem and how it relates to Coleridge’s views.

Overall, I have a pretty good idea of where I’m going for the paper. I don’t think that Coleridge’s beliefs on religion and philosophy were touched on much in class, so I think that focusing on this aspect in my paper will make for an interesting exploration of Coleridge’s views.