A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Act 5, Scene 1
The poet’s eye in a ﬁne frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Artists and writers refer to their muse for sparks of inspiration. The term originated in Greek mythology with the nine daughters of Zeus, but the term has evolved to frequently mean another human being. It is undoubtedly true that invocations come from the interaction of mutually open hearts, and that was the case in the society of friends who surrounded Coleridge – especially during the annus mirabilis at Nether Stowey. Coleridge was aware of the benefit he received from his friends’ shared gifts, but he likewise gave credit to God as the source of his power.
As Malcolm Guite wrote in Mariner:
Coleridge’s great gift as a poet was imagination itself; his great gift as a prose writer was in leading his reader into a deeper understanding of the imagination. In the end Coleridge traced the living stream of the imagination back up to what he believed to be its origin in the creative act of God’s imagination, whereby the world came into being. As Coleridge would later put it: “The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the ﬁnite mind of the eternal act of creation in the inﬁnite I AM.