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LITERARY LIFE AND OPINIONS,
FROM THE SECOND LONDON EDITION, PREPARED FOR PUBLICATION, IN PART,
BY THE LATE HENRY NELSON COLERIDGE;
COMPLETED AND PUBLISHED
BY HIS WIDOW.
19 TWO VOLUME!,
Occasion of the Lyrical Ballads, and the objects originally proposed—Preface to the second edition—The ensuing controversy, its causes and acrimony—Philosophic definitions of a Poem and Poetry with scholia.
Dubing the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbors,1 our conversation turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colors of imagination. The sudden charm, which accidents of light and shade, which moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and familiar landscape, appeared to represent the practicability of combining both. These are the poetry of nature. The thought suggested itself—(to which of us I do not recollect)— that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, super, natural; and the excellence aimed at, was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being, who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters and incidents were to be such as will be found in every village and its vicinity, where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them, when they present themselves.
In this idea, originated the plan of the Lyrical Ballads; in
1 [In 1797-8, whilst Mr. Coleridge resided at Nether Stowey, and Mr. Wordsworth at Alfoxton. Ed.]