A Charge of Idleness

LETTER TO GEORGE COLERIDGE
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

23 February 1794

I became a proverb to the University for Idleness—the time, which I should have bestowed on the academic studies, I employed in dreaming out wild schemes of impossible extrication. It had been better for me, if my Imagination had been less vivid—I could not with such facility have shoved aside Reflection! How many and how many hours have I stolen from the bitterness of Truth in these soul-enervating Reveries—in building magnificent edifices of Happiness on some fleeting shadow of Reality!


Rick WilcoxThis week we read Chapter Two of Malcolm Guite’s Mariner. The chapter chronicles Coleridge’s life through difficult and bitter stages which were usually the consequence of his own poor choices. Of the criticism that followed, the harshest came from Coleridge himself as he believed the root to be idleness.

Malcolm Guite wrote:

So this so-called “idleness” was not blank enervation, and Coleridge was certainly no couch potato. Note how active this idleness is: dreaming wild schemes, pursuing a vivid imagination, and building magnificent edifices. Although these, as Coleridge called them, “soul-enervating Reveries” were unproductive at the time in academic terms, they were also an exercise of just those faculties of his shaping spirit of imagination, from which the immortal poems of his annus mirabilis would arise. It is also interesting to note that he is indulging these long reveries well before the time of his serious indulgence in, or addiction to, opium. Opium may have exaggerated these and made them genuinely more enervating, but at this stage they were a playful and fruitful preparation of the rich soil of Coleridge’s imagination. Indeed, in the combination here of the fleeting shadow and the magnificent edifice built through the imagination, we have already a faint foreshadowing of Kubla Khan.

Were you ever accused of being lazy?

Does society encourage the dreamer?

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

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Rick Wilcox

Rick is an ordained minister who is voraciously interested in the holistic transformation of people individually and in an organizational context - enabled by technology, educated continuously through multi-channel systems and informed by the wisdom of history's greatest thinkers. He is a Ph.D. student at Faulkner University, focusing on English Literature in the context of Classical Education. He earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Science in Management from Sam Houston State University. His undergraduate studies earned a BA with double majors in Sociology and Theology from Houston Baptist University. Rick is Deputy Director of PACES PAideia Classical School and leads the Parenting Teens Adult Community at Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands Texas.