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Showing posts from July, 2011

Coleridge and the Female Muse

I’ve recently finished reading Richard Holme’s splendid two volume biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and topped it off with Adam Sisman’s equally splendid Wordsworth and Coleridge: A Friendship.

Coleridge’s was not a happy life, what with the failure of his marriage and the opium addiction that caused him such terrible physical and mental suffering. Much as I admire what I know of his work, I’m left with a mix of sympathy and irritation for the man. There’s no doubt that the problems within his marriage caused him much suffering, but I can’t help thinking that this was in large part because his wife Sara did not nurture his creativity. She does not seem to have been his intellectual or creative equal – Dorothy Wordsworth (not an objective witness) called her “the lightest weakest silliest woman” who lacked “sensibility”. Clearly a most unsuitable wife for a poet. She was not his muse, and she was too busy looking after his children, cooking, cleaning, and washing to act as his ama…