Lyrical Ballads

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Wordsworth and Coleridge, as individuals, were two of the most important influences on the philosophical tenets and aesthetic sensibilities of the Romantic movement. Together, they published one of its most important works, Lyrical Ballads. Yet, despite this firm connection, it cannot be said that their vision of the 'Romantic' (and of one of the concepts at its heart: the imagination) were the same; in fact, the beliefs of each poet on what precisely Romantic poetry was are quite different.


"Kubla Khan" is an elaborate and sensual adventure, it is fantastical and a phonic treat, conjuring amazing, startling images in the mind's eye and enacting this creation through the medium of sybaritic, mesmerising poetry. "Tintern Abbey", on the other hand, written as it is in blank verse, is more austere and more consciously philosophical. Its dominant mode is not that of the image, but of thought, its rhythm more steady. These differences, albeit whilst they mask some similarities, are indicative of Wordsworth and Coleridge's divergent understanding of the nature of the imagination.
For a large part of the critical history of "Kubla Khan", the poem has been considered as something slight, when it was published it was considered nothing more interesting that a nonsense poem. This reading is certainly a mistake and one made, I imagine, because of a misunderstanding of how to read the poem. It cannot be read, or at least to understand its significance it should not be read, on an ordinary level, for its word by word, phrase by phrase significances. Rather the very motion of the poem, its exaltation in creation is its sense; the poem's means of creation is equal to what is created. ...
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