Coleridge as Poet and Religious Thinker: Inspiration and by David Jasper

By David Jasper

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4 In his letter to Thelwall, Coleridge describes the 'unregenerate mind' of 'The Eolian Harp' (1. 55), which aspires to the one absolutely perfect Being, and which, for the Cambridge Platonists, meant the Holy Trinity or the first hypostasis of the Divine Triad of Plotinus. Later, Coleridge was to conclude that in the counterfeiting of infinity, 20 The Early Writings 21 the particular and the individual provided intimations of the infinite and the absolute. He draws upon Schelling in the Biographia Literaria to demonstrate that within the flux of time and space, 'time per se' is com present and the 'absolute self supratemporal.

43 44 I Coleridge as Poet and Religious Thinker 'KUBLA KHAN' AND THE TOMORROW YET TO COME On the morning of Saturday, 14 October 1797, Coleridge wrote a letter to John Thelwell. It tends to confirm a note on an autograph copy of the poem in the relatively recently discovered Crewe MS 5 which contradicts in a number of ways the factual claims of the published Preface. The note merely records: This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of Reverie brought on by two grains of Opium, taken to cheat a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock & Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone Church, in the fall of the year 1797.

The notorious difficulty of drawing into coherence the wide diversity of Coleridge's thought and writings resides partly in his constant desire to bind all together and to aspire to the One, the absolute. Yet it does account for the linking of all his forms of thought to an underlying religious concern, for it may be said that the purpose of religion is 'religere', to bind together or rebind. I EARLY RELIGIOUS WRITINGS AND THE WATCHMAN (1796) Between February 1797 and February 1798, Coleridge wrote a series of five autobiographical letters to his friend Thomas Poole, outlining his family history and his own childhood to his schooldays at Christ's Hospital.

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