Elucidate Coleridge’s theory of poetry.


As a poet, philosopher, and literary critic, S T Colleridge has kept his marks on the development of modern literary thought. Going through his poetry and apprehending the feelings of nature, romantic attitude, and values, we can say that he is a master poet. Colleridge is also widely famous as a critic for his critical work “Biographia Literaria” where he has elucidated his theory of poetry. Here he has presented some opposition to Wordsworth’s views described in the “Lyrical Ballads”.

Though Colleridge himself is not well-order in writing poetic work, still nobody has surpassed his ability of poetic criticism and depth. Discussing the problems of poetry, he has given a new domain to poetry.

According to Colledridge, prose and poetry contain the same elements. Both are written in words and phrases. But there are some differences among the combination of elements and objects. He thinks that poetry is the exact antithesis of prose, but to science and poetry is opposed to science and prose to meter-poetry.

Colleridge says that poetry and poem are two different modes of writing. He says-

“Poetry is the highest kind may exist without metre and even

without the contradistinguishing objects of a poem.”


“The differences of a poem from poetry as a whole orThe function of Poetry”

Moreover, he thinks that a poem is an organic unity and its function is to provide pleasure. When we appreciate each part of a poem, our pleasure increasingly develops out of that appreciation. A true poem does not contain a series of lines, phrases, and verses, rather it is complete in itself. It does not necessarily relate to the rest of the work.

Colleridge points out that poetic activity is based on imagination. Poetry is the activity of the poet’s mind and a poem is the form of verbal expression of poetic activity. He thinks that deliberate thinking is the force of poetry that is the product of powerful emotions and imagination.

“Poetry is the product of powerful emotions and imaginations.

The guiding force of poetry is deliberate thinking.”


“The poet works through the exercise of his Imagination.”

In terms of poetic language, Colleridge says that it should be appropriate to the manner and matter of poetry. It should not contain grossness, vulgarity, and rusticism. He supports the figurative language in the poetry. We can see various figures of speech in the poetry of Colleridge. He is in for the use of ornamental diction to vivify the poetic message.

Colleridge opines the style of poetry. He thinks that a poet must maintain his own style regarding grammar, diction, poetic logic, and argument. He will rely on his imagination, deal with nature, and create an organic whole.

Finally, we can say that in his discussion about the theory of poetry, Colleridge has clearly displayed the differences between prose, poetry, and poem. He talks about the powerful imagination and diction of poetic works.