Literary Qualities

In developing his themes in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge masterfully expresses concepts through the use of symbols and imagery. Much of the imagery is breathtaking, and the poet’s intense descriptions leave a lasting imprint on the reader. This skillful combination of intellectual content and vivid descriptions is not only aesthetically appealing, but also emotionally moving.

When Coleridge and Wordsworth developed the poetic theory that underlies Lyrical Ballads, they decided to use ordinary speech in their verses-what Wordsworth called “the language of real life.” Embracing colloquial language was part of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s general break with neoclassical philosophies and traditions, which emphasized logic, structure, and formality. Wordsworth and Coleridge incorporated ballad forms, themes, and characters, and proposed to write poems about simple, natural characters.

In place of an overwhelming emphasis on society-as characterized the poetry of Alexander Pope-Wordsworth and Coleridge wanted to highlight the importance of the individual. They emphasized human emotions, and stressed the concept that imagination and creativity are forces within the individual that respond to the natural world.

A lyric typically is a short poem that expresses the speaker’s thoughts and emotions; a ballad is a dramatic narrative, a poem that tells a story. Lyrical Ballads, therefore, was an attempt by Coleridge and Wordsworth to bring together two poetic genres that previously had been seen as mutually exclusive. The two poets were innovative in their attempt to develop a new poetry to encompass the new realities that they perceived in the world about them.

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