Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coleridge in the army

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1793 English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834), fleeing his debtors, enlisted in the Light Dragoons.

Coleridge used the alias Silas Tompkyns Comberbeck, to retain his initials. A legend has it that when a drill sergeant asked, "Whose dirty rifle is this", Coleridge asked in return, "Is it very, very dirty?" The sergeant answered that it was. "Then it must be mine," Coleridge is said to have replied. His only real service was in a military hospital, from which possibly he found the imagery for the dead sailors in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'.

Later, after his parents had paid off his commission, at Cambridge University he came into contact with political and theological ideas then considered radical. Motivated by the heady political and intellectual atmosphere of the early years of the French Revolution, he dropped out of Cambridge without a degree and joined the Oxford poet Robert Southey (the two poets later married two sisters, Sarah and Edith Flicker) in a plan, soon abandoned, to found a utopian communist-like society, called 'pantisocracy', in the wilderness of Pennsylvania ...

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