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Flashcards in Coleridge Deck (22):

Dejection, An Ode: To whom was the poem originally addressed?

Sara Hutchinson, Wordsworth's future sister-in-law whom Coleridge was in love with.


Dejection, An Ode: What are some of the factors in Coleridge's life that may have contributed to him writing an ode to Dejection?

He was unhappily married, artistically overshadowed by Wordsworth, and in love with an unattainable woman (Sara Hutchinson)


Dejection, An Ode: When was this poem published?

1802, in a London Newspaper. (It was NOT a part of lyrical ballads.)


Dejection, An Ode: Was this poem a part of Lyrical Ballads?



Dejection, An Ode: What is the epigraph of this poem?

An excerpt from the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the first stanza.

As described in the epigraph, the speaker believes the night's new moon portends a big storm. He hopes that a violent storm will snap him out of his unhappiness, as the awe of such natural events has in the past.


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the second stanza.

The poet describes the sky, the moon, the stars - he knows they are beautiful, but their beauty does not reach him like it has in the past. He's not angry, or frustrated, or even grieving - he just can't seem to access his emotions, especially joy.

"I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!"

This stanza also contains the first reference to the "Lady" (Sara).


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the third stanza.

The poet wonders if there is anything that can cheer him up: he doesn't think so. He know, certainly, that nothing external can. If he is to find joy and happiness again, it must start within himself.


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the fourth stanza.

Again addressing himself to the "Lady," the poet continues his stream of thought from the previous stanza. What nature (the world) is like depends on our perspective and attitudes. He knows that the soul has the power to make everything seem beautiful. It is this power he wants to access.


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the fifth stanza.

Continuing to address the lady, the speaker reveals what "the music of the soul" that changes the way we see the world is: Joy.

Joy is pure. It makes us feel more in tune with nature and gives us a new understanding of ourselves and the world.


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the sixth stanza.

The poet confesses that he once possessed the Joy he describes. That, along with "Fancy"/Imagination, made him go through life happily. He was able to shake off small misfortunes and take pleasure in life.

As his joy has faded, so has his Imagination, which is especially painful. He doesn't know how to go about reclaiming what "nature gave me at my birth," but he hopes it will return one day. He has doubts, though - it's been so long he has begun to spare if he will ever feel the pleasures of Joy and Fancy again.


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the seventh stanza.

This stanza turns back to the topic of weather introduced in the first paragraph. The wind is violent and terrible, making horrible noises. The speaker also likens it to an actor who only plays tragedies or a poet who writes about the horrors of war or a little girl lost in the wilderness.

The wind is vicious and horrible.


Dejection, An Ode: Summarize the eight stanza.

Though it's midnight, the poet cannot sleep. The storm outside and the storm in his own mind keep him awake. He wishes Joy and peace upon the Lady's soul - he essentially wishes for her all that he feels alienated from.


What is an ode?

An elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally.


Who wrote the first English odes?



Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Discuss the marginal glosses.

The glosses were added by Shelley for the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads," for which he also lessened the number of archaisized words. They are meant to mimic the style of 17th-century learned texts.


What was a failed venture of Coleridge's youth?

Founding the "Pantisocracy" -- a society meant to have equal rule by all. (It is through this scheme that he ends up unhappily married.)


Rime of the Ancient Mariner: What is the frame narrative for this poem?

A wedding guest is accosted by an old man who insists on telling him this story.


Rime of the Ancient Mariner: What happens in this poem?

An old mariner describes an ill-fated voyage where his ship got stuck in ice. An albatross appears, following them for several days, and their fortunes seem to improve. The mariner kills the albatross, after which the ship is becalmed and everyone dies -- except the mariner.

The mariner is forced to wear the albatross around his neck. After appreciating the beauty of the creatures of the sea, the albatross falls off his neck. The bodies of the crew are animated with spirits that sail the ship home again before it sinks into a whirlpool.

The mariner is cursed to wander the earth, telling people his story so that they might learn a lesson.


Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Why does the mariner shoot the albatross?

A good answer is not given. The albatross follows the ship and befriends the sailors, and one day the mariner just decides to kill it. He is unappreciative or uncomprehending of the good fortune it brings (impiety).


Kubla Khan: What is the backstory of this poem's composition? Is the backstory relevant?

Coleridge claims it came to him in a dream when he falls asleep reading. During his sleep, he believes he wrote 200-300 lines of the poem. He begins to furiously write things down when he awakens, but is called out on business for an hour, and when he returns to his room, he can only remember the part of the poem you see here.

I think it's relevant because of the Romantic interest in dreams and the imagination. Either the story is true, in which Coleridge included the anecdote because he really thought there was something significant and transcendent in this experience, or it is invented, which means that Coleridge was trying to write the kind of poem that would result from such a scenario. Either situation lends insight into Coleridge's poetic project.


Kubla Khan: What "happens" in this poem?

With a rather disorienting and dream-like structure, the speaker describes a beautiful ancient land where darker forces lurk. The speaker mentions he once heard a lady with a dulcimer; if he could hear her music again, he thinks he could recreate the strange and miraculous vision of the "pleasure-dome" (i.e., the lines he composed in his dream).

It is a poem of pure imagination; not loaded with symbols etc.