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About the book
  • Published: 31 August 2006
  • ISBN: 9780140424621
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: $19.99

Lyrical Ballads


Formats & editions


A collection of poems exemplifying Romantic aesthetic ideals, whose unique beauty lies in their revolutionary exploration of the 'overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility', Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads is edited with a note on the text by Michael Schmidt in Penguin Classics.
Published in 1798, Lyrical Ballads is a dazzling collaboration containing twenty-three poems by close friends, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge - two major figures of English Romanticism. The volume heralded a new approach to poetry and expresses the poets' reflections on mankind's relationship with the forces of the world. Coleridge's contribution includes the nightmarish vision of 'The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere', one of the works for which he became best known, as well as the fantastical conversational poem 'The Foster-Mother's Tale' and the melancholic 'The Nightingale'. Wordsworth's 'We are Seven' depicts a child's naïve optimism in the face of the cruel mortality, while 'Goody Blake and Harry Gill' and 'Simon Lee' celebrate the simplicity and strength he perceived in country people, and 'Tintern Abbey' explores the healing powers of nature.
This Penguin Classics edition allows readers to recapture the full impact and power of Lyrical Ballads. It also includes a note on the history of the text by Michael Schmidt.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) has been criticized as a political turn-coat, drug addict and plagiarist whose wrecked career left only a handful of magical early poems. But the shaping influence of his highly imaginative criticism is now generally accepted, and his position, along with that of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), as one of the two great progenitors of the English Romantic spirit is assured. A great innovator, Wordsworth permanently enlarged the range of English poetry both in subject matter and treatment.
If you enjoyed the Lyrical Ballads, you might like Wordsworth's Selected Poems, also available in Penguin Classics.

  • Pub date: 31 August 2006
  • ISBN: 9780140424621
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 at Ottery St Mary, Devon, the youngest son of a clergyman. A precocious reader and talker as a child, he was educated at Christ's Hospital School, London, where he began his friendship with Charles Lamb and wrote his earliest poems, and Jesus College, Cambridge.

In 1794 he met Robert Southey and together they planned Pantisocracy, an ideal community to be founded in America, but the project collapsed after a quarrel. Coleridge's poems were published in the Morning Chronicle, and in he wrote 'The Eolian Harp' for Sara Fricker, whom he married in the same year, although the marriage was an unhappy one. He first met Dorothy and William Wordsworth in 1797 and a close association developed between them. Coleridge wrote his famous 'Kubla Khan' in the same year, followed in 1798 by 'Frost at Midnight'.

In 1799 he and Wordsworth published the Lyrical Ballads, which marked a conscious break with eighteenth-century tradition and included one of Coleridge's greatest poems, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. During a visit to the Wordsworths in 1799 he met Sara Hutchinson, who became his lifelong love and the subject of his Asra poems.

In the following year Coleridge and his family settled at Greta Hall, Keswick, where he wrote the second part of Christabel, begun in 1798, and also became addicted to opium. In 1804 he separated from his wife and spent the following years in the Mediterranean or London, returning in 1808 to live with the Wordsworths in Grasmere. In 1809 he established The Friend, a political, literary and philosophical weekly journal, which he published regularly over the next year.

After a disagreement with Wordsworth in 1810 Coleridge left the Lake District for ever, centering his life thereafter in London, where he gave his Shakespeare Lectures. He presented his literary and philosophical theories in the two-volume Biographia Literaria, published in 1817, and collected his poems in Sibylline Leaves. In an attempt to control his opium addiction he entered the household and care of Dr James Gillman at Highgate in 1816. Here he was to remain for the last eighteen years of his life, writing a number of late confessional poems and prose works, including Aids to Reflection, published in 1825. Coleridge died in 1834 overseen a final edition of his Poetical Works.

Poet, philosopher and critic, Coleridge stands as one of the seminal figures of his time. William Hazlitt wrote: 'His thoughts did not seem to come with labour and effort; but as if borne on the gusts of genius, and as if the wings of his imagination lifted him from off his feet', and Wordsworth called him 'the only wonderful man I ever knew'.


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