Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Coleridge + Wordsworth

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote 'Lyrical Ballads' with William Wordsworth in 1798, is one of my favourite poets.  Indeed, the finest poem in that beautiful tome is 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' which of course gives its name to the author of this blog.  Wordsworth wrote 'England' in 1802, and it is one of the finest in the language.  It should be taught to every pupil in every English school until they have memorised it.  Of course this won't happen.  The left liberal establishment has decided English students have no right to discover their excellent literary heritage, except for a few lines of Chaucer and Shakespeare.  Mr Michael Gove, the massively overrated education secretary, should put the poetry of Wordsworth in the English curriculum.  I have never understood why Mr Gove is considered a Tory star.  He is intelligent no doubt.  But he and Cameron have betrayed one of the most fundamental conservative principles of betterment through self help of the Samuel Smiles variety.  Grammar schools used to be a guarantor of social mobility.  They gave poor children a private school style education, which is a fundamentally conservative thing, as Peter Hitchens explains in his excellent book 'The Abolition of Britain.'  His 'free schools' programme is a needless waste of time and money.  He could simply allow the extension of the grammar schools.  Socialists and other hypocrite liberals who disagree with the system can simply send their children to a bog standard comprehensive.  They won't however.  They'll emulate Polly Toynbee and send them private. 

Anyone, to get back to the point, Coleridge and Wordsworth are the greatest of the Romantic poets.  Both were conservatives, despite Wordsworths' earlier radicalism.  Both were patriotic Englishmen who wrote beautifully about the landscape of our dear country.  One of my favourite poems is 'A Sunset' by Coleridge, first published in 1805.  It is a simple poem, but immensely powerful.  Before I print out the poem, I say to readers that I will be writing often about poetry.  Anyone interested in politics must become interested in poetry.  The noble battle of political ideas and ideals are best expressed by poetic language, echoing the prose of Shelley, Browning, Keats etc.  Wilfred Owen expressed the futility of the First World War better than anybody with his hauntingly despondent poetry.  Historians can only do so much until the poets take their ideas to a higher plane. 

The Sunset

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Upon the mountain's edge with light touch resting,

There a brief while the globe of splendour sits
And seems a creature of the earth, but soon,
More changeful than the Moon,
To wane fantastic his great orb submits,
Or cone or mow of fire: till sinking slowly
Even to a star at length he lessons wholly.

Abrupt, as Spirits vanish, he is sunk!
A soul-like breeze possesses all the wood.
The boughs, the sprays have stood
As motionless as stands the ancient trunk!
But every leaf through all the forest flutters,
And deep the cavern of the mountain mutters.

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