Though he endured periods of waning fame in his own lifetime, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is now known as one of the most important figures in English literature. His collection of poetry with William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads (1798), initiated the Romantic age of poetry; his Biographia Literaria (1817) also remains one of the most influential contributions to literary criticism. Yet Coleridge was also an interested reader of Swedenborg, and enjoyed a friendship with one of the founders of the Swedenborg Society, Charles Augustus Tulk. Poems like the beautiful ‘Frost at Midnight’ (1798) show his familiarity with Swedenborgian ideals, and he would eventually claim the Swedish mystic to be ‘a moralist […] above all praise’.
This authoritative edition was originally published in the acclaimed Oxford Authors series under the general editorship of Frank Kermode. It brings together a unique combination of Coleridge’s poetry and prose—all the major poems, complemented by important criticism, letters, and marginalia—to give the essence of his work and thinking.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834). The leading Romantic poet, critic and philosopher was a keen reader of Swedenborg. Hazlitt records that the young Coleridge ‘walked hand in hand with Swedenborg through the pavilions of the New Jerusalem and sang his faith in the promise and in the word in his “Religious Musings”’. Later in life, having formed a close friendship with the Swedenborgian Charles Augustus Tulk, Coleridge made a deep study of several of Swedenborg’s works, including The Economy of the Animal Kingdom, The Worship and Love of God, Divine Love and Wisdom and The True Christian Religion. He offered to write a ‘Life of the Mind of Swedenborg’ for the Swedenborg Society, but the offer was not accepted. He wrote that as a moralist ‘Swedenborg is above all praise; and that as a naturalist, psychologist, and theologian he has strong and varied claims on the gratitude and admiration of the professional and philosophical student’.
Reference: H J Jackson, ‘”Swedenborg’s Meaning is the truth”: Coleridge, Tulk, and Swedenborg’, in In Search of the Absolute: Essays on Swedenborg and Literature (The Swedenborg Society, 2004).
Read a review of In Search of the Absolute in the The Coleridge Bulletin (Journal of the Friends of Coleridge, New Series 33 (NS) Summer 2009)