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Module 1: Coleridge The Eolian Harp

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The artist as creator

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The artist as creator

The artist as creator

Sex is a relevant image in itself for the way in which the Romantics saw
the artist - as a creator. The notion of creating has its symbolic
parallels in the idea of God, and the idea of conception and birth. Hence,
it was not unusual for the Romantics to see the artist as god-like (Mary
Shelley, for example, wrote the story of Frankenstein about a human who
literally creates life. One of the ways in which this novel is seen is as a
symbol of artistic creation in the figure of Frankenstein, who "plays
God").

Equally, it was not unusual for the Romantics to express artistic creation
as a sexual act. As stated earlier, typical of the Conversation Poems is
the movement through the poem by one idea setting off another that is
suggested by it. Here, the sexual nature of this image also takes us back
to the physical context of the poem itself.

Like the harp, Sara is "reclined"; the tone of the opening is very loving
and Coleridge's particular view of the harp perhaps suggests what else was
on his mind.

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