OR, GROWTH OF A POET'S MIND;
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL POEM
The following Poem was commenced in the beginning of the year
1799, and completed in the summer of 1805.
The design and occasion of the work are described by the Author
in his Preface to the EXCURSION, first published in 1814, where he
"Several years ago, when the Author retired to his native
mountains with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary
work that might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should
take a review of his own mind, and examine how far Nature and
Education had qualified him for such an employment.
"As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in
verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was
acquainted with them.
"That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished for
his knowledge and genius, and to whom the Author's intellect is
deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the result of the
investigation which gave rise to it, was a determination to
compose a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and
Society, and to be entitled the 'Recluse'; as having for its
principal subject the sensations and opinions of a poet living in
"The preparatory poem is biographical, and conducts the history
of the Author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope
that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the
arduous labour which he had proposed to himself; and the two works
have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express
himself, as the Ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic church.
Continuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add, that his
minor pieces, which have been long before the public, when they
shall be properly arranged, will be found by the attentive reader
to have such connection with the main work as may give them claim
to be likened to the little cells, oratories, and sepulchral
recesses, ordinarily included in those edifices."
Such was the Author's language in the year 1814.
It will thence be seen, that the present Poem was intended to be
introductory to the RECLUSE, and that the RECLUSE, if completed,
would have consisted of Three Parts. Of these, the Second Part
alone, viz. the EXCURSION, was finished, and given to the world by
The First Book of the First Part of the RECLUSE still remains in
manuscript [now in print]; but the Third Part was only planned.
The materials of which it would have been formed have, however,
been incorporated, for the most part, in the Author's other
Publications, written subsequently to the EXCURSION.
The Friend, to whom the present Poem is addressed, was the late
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, who was resident in Malta, for the
restoration of his health, when the greater part of it was
Mr. Coleridge read a considerable portion of the Poem while he
was abroad; and his feelings, on hearing it recited by the Author
(after his return to his own country), are recorded in his Verses,
addressed to Mr. Wordsworth, which will be found in the "Sibylline
Leaves," p. 197, ed. 1817, or "Poetical Works," by S. T.
Coleridge, vol. i. p. 206.
July 13th, 1850.