S. T.

Coleridge: Function of Poetry Coleridge poses numerous questions regarding the nature and function of poetry and then answers them. He also examines the ways in which poetry differs from other kinds of artistic acti ity! and the role and significance of metre as an essential and significant part of a poem. He "egins "y emphasi#ing the difference "etween prose and poetry. $% poem contains the same elements as a prose composition.& 'oth use words. Then! the difference "etween poem and a prose composition cannot lie in the medium! for each employs words. (t must! therefore! $consists in a different com"ination of them! in consequence of a different o")ect "eing proposed.& % poem com"ines words differently! "ecause it is seeking to do something different. $%ll it may "e seeking to do may "e to facilitate memory. *ou may take a piece of prose and cast it into rhymed and metrical form in order to remem"er it "etter.& +hymed tags of that kind! with their frequent! $sounds and quantities&! yield a particular pleasure too! though not of a ery high order. (f one wants to gi e the name of poem to a composition of this kind! there is no reason why one should not. %s Coleridge says: $'ut we should note that! though such rhyming tags ha e the charm of metre and rhyme! metre and rhyme ha e "een ,superadded-. they do not arise from the nature of the content! "ut ha e "een imposed on it in order to make it more easily memori#ed.& The $Superficial form&! the externalities! pro ides no profound logical reason for distinguishing "etween different ways of handling language. $% difference of o")ect and contents supplies an additional ground of distinction.& The philosopher will seek to differentiate "etween two ways of handling language "y asking what each seeks to achie e and how that aim determines its nature. $The immediate purpose may "e the communication of truth or the communication of pleasure. The communication of truth might in turn yield a deep pleasure! "ut! Coleridge insists! one must distinguish "etween the ultimate and the immediate end.& Similarly! if the immediate aim "e the communication of pleasure! truth may ne ertheless "e the ultimate end! and while in an ideal society nothing that was not truth could yield pleasure! in society as it always existed! a literary work might communicate pleasure has always existed! a literary work might communicate pleasure without ha ing any concern with $truth! either moral or intellectual&. $The proper kinds of distinction "etween different kinds of writing can thus "e most logically discussed in terms of the difference in the immediate aim! or function! of each.& The immediate aim of poetry is to gi e pleasure.

poetry.for Coleridge is an acti ity of the . $To .poet-s. %s 0a id 0aiches points out: $-Poetry.poem.& Therefore! a legitimate poem is a composition! in which the rhyme and the metre "ear an organic relation to the total work.mind! and a .superadd.& +hyme and metre in ol e! $an exact correspondent recurrence of accent and sound& which in turn $are calculated to excite& a $perpetual and distinct attention to each part.& Thus Coleridge puts an end for good to the age old contro ersy whether the end of poetry is instruction or delight or "oth. Poetry! in this large sense! "rings! .the whole soul of man-! into acti ity! with each faculty playing its proper part according to its . 0o we make these into poems simply "y superadding metre with or without rhyme1 To which Coleridge replies "y emphasi#ing a ery important principle: you cannot deri e true and permanent pleasure out of any feature or a work which does not arise naturally from the total nature of that work.'ut! $The communication of pleasure may "e the immediate o")ect of a work not metrically composed& / in no els! for example.for Coleridge is a wider category than that of . that is! poetry is a kind of acti ity which can "e engaged in "y painters or philosophers or scientists and is not confined to those who employ metrical language! or e en to those who employ language of any kind.relati e worth and dignity-.poem.& This is so "ecause .& $% poem! therefore! must "e an organic unity in the sense that! while we note and appreciate each part! to which the regular recurrence of accent and sound draw attention! our pleasure in the whole de elops cumulati ely out of such appreciation! which is at the same time pleasura"le in itself and conducti e to an awareness of the total pattern of the complete poem.secondary imagination.poem-.Poem. %ccording to Shawcross: $This distinction "etween .Poetry-. (f metre "e superadded! all other parts must "e made consonant with it.poetry.metre is to pro ide merely a superficial decorati e charm.is not ery clear! and instead of defining poetry he proceeds to descri"e a poet! and from the poet he proceeds to enumerate the characteristics of the (magination. 3hene er the synthesi#ing! the integrating! powers of the secondary imagination are at work! "ringing all aspects of a su")ect into a complex unity! then poetry in this larger sense results. in it! $parts mutually support and explain each other! all in their proportion harmoni#ing with! and supporting the purpose and known influences of! metrical arrangement. (ts aim is definitely to gi e pleasure! and further poetry has its own distincti e pleasure! pleasure arising from the parts! and this pleasure of the parts supports and increases the pleasure of the whole.& This takes place whene er the .is merely one of the forms of its expression! a er"al expression of that acti ity! and poetic acti ity is "asically an acti ity of the imagination.and .& $2othing can permanently please! which does not contain in itself the reason why it is so! and not otherwise.comes into operation.from . 2ot only that! Coleridge also distinguishes a .& $Thus a poem differs from a work of scientific prose in ha ing as its immediate o")ect pleasure and not truth! and it differs from other kinds of writing which ha e pleasure and not truth as their immediate o")ect "y the fact that in a poem the pleasure we take from the whole work in compati"le with! and e en led up to "y the pleasure we take in each competent part. .

First! he puts an end for good to the age old contro ersy "etween instruction and delight "eing the end of poetry! and esta"lishes that pleasure is the end of the poetry! and that poetry has its own distincti e pleasure. e ery one of its characteristics must grow out of its whole nature and "e an integral part of it."y the quick reciprocations of curiosity still gratified and still re5excited-! and carries the reader forward to the end . the idea! with the image. (ndeed! Coleridge goes to the extent of saying that there is no such thing as a long poem.perpetual and distinct attention to each part-! .$The employment of the secondary imagination is! a poetic acti ity! and we can see why Coleridge is led from a discussion of a poem to a discussion of the poet-s acti ity when we reali#e that for him the poet "elongs to the larger company of those who are distinguished "y the acti ity of their imagination. "ut a poem is also a specific work of art produced "y a special handling of language. the indi idual! with the representati e. (n a legitimate poem! i. Thyme and metre are essential parts for "y their! $recurrence of accent and sound&! they in ite attention to the pleasure of each separate part! and thus add to the pleasure of the whole. Secondly! he explodes the neo5classical iew of poetry as imitation! and shows that it is an acti ity of the imagination which in turn is a shaping and unifying power! which dissol es! . The harmony and reconciliation resulting from the special kind of creati e awareness achie ed "y the exercise of the imagination! cannot operate o er an extended composition."y the pleasura"le. $3hen! therefore! metre is thus in consonance with the language and content of the poem! it excites a . The notion of such organic unity runs through all Coleridge-s pronouncements of poetry. +hyme and metre are integral to the poem! an essential part of it! "ecause the pleasure of poetry is a special kind of pleasure! pleasure which results "oth from the parts and the whole! and the pleasure arising from the parts augments the pleasure of the whole.& Thus Coleridge6s contri"ution to the theory of poetry is significant. of the general! with the concrete.acti ity of the mind excited "y the attractions of the )ourney itself.& 2othing that is! $superadded&! merely stuck on for ornament or decoration! can really please in a poem. nor any hastening forward to the end! unattracted "y the parts. There is no stopping for him on the way! attracted "y the parts. the sense of no elty and freshens! with old and familiar o")ects&! and so on! for an indefinite period. one could not sustain that "lending and "alance! that reconciliation! $of sameness! with difference. +hyme and 4etre! are not pleasure superadded for! $2othing can permanently please! which does not contain in itself the reason why it is so! and not otherwise.e.& % poem is always the work of a poet! of a man employing the secondary imagination and so achie ing the harmony of meaning! the reconciliation of opposites! and so on! which Coleridge so stresses. in a poem which is poetry in the true sense of the word! there is perfect unity of form and content. (t is one un"roken pleasure trip from the parts to the whole. % long poem! therefore! would not "e all poetry. +hyme and metre are appropriate to a poem considered in the larger sense of poetry! "ecause they are means of achie ing harmoni#ation! reconciliation of opposites! and so forth! which! as we ha e seen! are o")ects of poetry in its widest imaginati e meaning.

He contro erts 3ordsworth6s iew that . Thirdly! he shows that in its ery nature poetry must differ from prose.rhyme and metre.dissipates and creates.are merely superadded! shows that they are an organic part of a poem in the real sense of the word. .