Samuel Coleridge


On this date Samuel Coleridge died (1772-1834).

Frye in “Rencontre: the General Editor’s Introduction”

Coleridge took over from Spinoza the distinction between natura naturata, nature as structure or system, and natura naturans, nature as creative process, and all his philosophy turns on the superiority and priority of the latter.  The importance of this for literature is mainly in the new status given to the poet, or the artist or creative person generally, as a result.  As long as it is assumed, in Sir Thomas Browne’s phrase, “Nature is the art of God,” the poet cannot be more than an imitator of nature at one remove, and of God at two removes.  Man’s creative power is at best a faint shadow of the power that made the realities of the world.  But for Coleridge, and increasingly for Romantic writers, man’s creative power does not imitate a structure of things out there, but participates in the organic structure of nature.  The poet creates, first, because he is alive and participates in the being of God (primary imagination), and second, because creation is the highest effort of conscious life. (CW , 121) L&S

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