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Organising PoetryThe Coleridge Circle, 1790-1798$
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David Fairer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296163.001.0001

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Putting His Poems Together: Coleridge's First Volume (1796 )

Putting His Poems Together: Coleridge's First Volume (1796 )

(p.160) 7 Putting His Poems Together: Coleridge's First Volume (1796)
Organising Poetry

David Fairer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In assembling the corpus of his poems for his first published volume, Poems on Various Subjects (1796), Coleridge faced problems of organisation, both poetic and personal. What he later wanted to think of as his ‘juvenilia’ was in fact largely a collection of his more recent work. The ‘juvenile’ and ‘mature’ voices alternate erratically through the volume in a way that seems strategically disingenuous. This chapter traces the delays and frustrations of his producing copy, and questions the chronology given by Cottle, his publisher. Examining the sequence of texts in detail it argues that the juxtapositions consciously project a voice struggling to grow in confidence, until the sudden maturity of ‘Religious Musings’, the final poem. Until that point the dynamic impulse is repeatedly checked, renewed, blasted, and revived. There is no easy progress here, but an unsettling negotiation with his poetic materials, and with his own past, present, and future.

Keywords:   Coleridge, Cottle, poems, effusion, sonnet, juvenile, Religious Musings, hope, embodiment, organisation

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