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Module 1: Coleridge Frost at Midnight

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Egotism and symbols

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English - Egotism and symbols

Egotism and symbols

What did the Romantics mean by egotism?

The film on the grate acts like the eolian harp in Coleridge's other
Conversation poem, _The Eolian Harp_, in providing the occasion for poetry
and being a symbol of the poet's consciousness itself. In each Conversation
poem, there exists some symbol of the mind as a receptor which receives and
makes images from the outside world - the idea of the mind 'EVERYWHERE ECHO
OR MIRROR SEEKING OF ITSELF'. This idea of the mind seeing its moods echoed
in the natural world is what the Romantics meant by "egotism".

The finding of some symbol for the mind of the poet is a process
represented in the whole sequence of the Conversation poems - in this poem
it is the film; in _The Eolian Harp_ it is the harp itself; in _This
Lime-tree Bower, my Prison_, it is the lime-tree bower itself which
provides both the occasion for poetry, and is a symbol of the poetic
consciousness itself. Like the other Conversation poems, this is a poem
about how poetry happens - in this case, against a background of a calm so
great 'THAT IT DISTURBS/AND VEXES MEDITATION'.

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