A Review by several readers of

Coleridge’s Poetical Works edited by Jim Mays


(The Coleridge Bulletin, New Series 21, Spring 2003 pp 81-91)


Paul D. Sheats




WHEN I mentioned to Graham Davidson that I’d found my first weeks with Jim Mays’s edition of Coleridge’s poems memorable, he asked me for a few words about it.  Readers of the Bulletin may remember, as I do, the keen pleasure given by the arrival of the new edition, which for me took the form of two sturdy cartons from Amazon, signed for at the front door.  The books were welcome for themselves, of course, but also for the long absence they ended.  They recalled graduate school warnings, forty years back, to steer clear of writing on Coleridge’s poetry because no adequate edition was available, and of a day in 1995 when for the purposes of a review I called the press to find out when the new edition would arrive; 1997 for sure, I was told.  It had been a long wait, and the sheer existence of these six books, their color, design, feel and heft, was something to savor as well as celebrate.

       The reality is apt to fall short of the expectation, as Wordsworth pointed out more than once, but in this case Mays did not in the least resemble Mont Blanc. As I browsed through the reading text it clearly beggared what expectations I had formed.  It was full of surprises–not only the newly-added poems and the uncanonical genres, but the fresh contexts they gave to more familiar poems.  The statement of editorial aims was frank and unambiguous in upholding the goal of literary understanding over purely bibliographical considerations, and, in what seemed a quiet Copernican revolution, it frankly acknowledged an editor’s subjection to history.  This edition, wrote the man who made it, was like “a comprehensive exhibition of a major painter,” a job that will inevitably “have to be done again” a generation or so later (lxxxii).  

       I was working then in a fairly lonely corner of that Coleridgean poem-gallery, on a project that involved close readings of several early poems.  As I began to use it, the new edition offered several kinds of help.  Of the ten poems written in 1792, for instance, four were new to the established sequence, among them one particularly important for my purposes, the Greek text of the prize ode on the slave trade, with Coleridge’s translation of the first four stanzas and pointed, suggestive notes on sources and grammar.  In the variorum volume I found crucial headnotes like the one that laid out the long, complex, and still-incomplete textual history of the Chatterton ode, and an apparatus that at once made clear that the title given an early sonnet in a




previous edition was not in fact Coleridge’s.  With a little practice I began to take advantage of the way the new apparatus isolates and analyzes the history of individual lines, setting off the tendency of Coleridge’s revisions with great clarity. 

       I might cite many other gifts this edition bestows on the reader and scholar, gifts for which Jim Mays deserves our heartfelt thanks, but I’ll end with a last first impression that has deepened with time.  Because of the way editorial modesty and candor accompany obviously magisterial achievement, and because of a spirit fiercely protective of the integrity of the particular, from the choice of reading text to the placement of a comma, this edition teaches as well as assists its reader.  To borrow the words Jim Mays gives to Coleridge’s translations, it offers the reader and scholar an “education… both technically and morally” (xci).

Paul Magnuson




WE HAVE MUCH to be grateful for in the publication of Jim Mays’ edition of Coleridge’s Poetical Works.  His modest introduction likens his edition to an exhibition of a major artist.  Some new paintings are displayed; some discovered not to be by the artist are excluded.  The remaining paintings are cleaned, remounted, and rearranged.  Yet there is much more to his edition than a simple dusting and re-ordering would suggest.  Mays’ edition contains a wealth of information about the manuscripts and printed versions of the poems, the composition and contents of Coleridge’s major collections of poems as well as the manuscript collections, the volumes that he is known to have annotated, and the details of the performances of his plays.  Critical perspectives on the individual poems and on Coleridge’s poetic career come more sharply into focus.  How did he present his poetry to a reading public?  What economic pressures, aesthetic standards, and prophetic purposes shaped his various publications?  How were his volumes constructed and by whom?  What is the appropriate arrangement for his poetry?  What is the relationship between his poems and dramas?  What is the difference between poems that are primarily private effusions and those that are public utterances?  Is there a coherent narrative to his poetic career, one that begins with ambitious obscurity complained of by John Thelwall, Richard Poole, and Charles Lamb, evolves through lyric modes constructed from Cowper’s blank verse and ode forms, stalls in the fragmentary mystery poems, and concludes with an allegorical poetry that he seemed to reject in the Biographia Literaria?  Or does his poetry tell another story—one of contingencies and accidents, his particular locations and circumstances, the collaboration with Southey and Wordsworth,




the employment by Daniel Stuart, his friendship with Charles Lamb and later with the Morgans and Gillmans, and the portrait painted of him in the public press starting with the attacks of the Anti-Jacobin in l797?  These are questions that cannot be fully answered by any edition of Coleridge’s poetry, but it is certain that they cannot be answered without Mays’ edition. 

       In another sense, the metaphor of a painting exhibition is inappropriate for this edition, because Mays constantly reminds us that poetry is music and that Coleridge’s poetry is written and printed to be performed.  Thus while he refers to the single versions of poems in the first volume as “reading texts,” he has also called them “speaking” texts.  The variorum texts in the second volume are printed to be read.  The musicality of Coleridge’s poetry informs Mays’ editorial decisions.  For instance, the common distinction between substantives, or the wording of a poem, and accidentals, the apparently trivial matters of spelling, punctuation, and typography, cannot be rigorously maintained if one’s purpose is to represent an oral performance.  It makes a difference, for instance, if in “Christabel” one prints “Jesu Maria,” or “Jesu, Maria,” which Mays points out is an error. Also in Christabel, it makes a difference that speech is not included in quotation marks, since without them, utterances seem to float free of individual characters and become the words of character, narrator, and reader alike.  Punctuation and paragraphing determine the pace of the reading, and as he said elsewhere, inaccurate paragraphing in “Christabel” is “as reprehensible as playing a record at the wrong speed” (“Christabel as Example,” Imprints & Re-visions, ed. Peter Hughes, l995, p. 135).  Or, as he puts it his introduction, “In Coleridge’s case, sound is particularly important because it can stand for things unknown.  Sound often trawls for meaning, which is caught and adjusted before it rises into sense” (I: lxxxv).

       I’d guess that Mays’ choice of individual reading texts was determined, at least in part, by his attention to the nuances of sound represented in versions that Coleridge closely supervised.  Mays does not follow a rigid formula of choosing the final version of a poem from the l829 or l834 editions. Henry Nelson Coleridge and William Pickering, the editors of Coleridge’s late editions, regularized the poems by the removal of small capitals and italics, while they allowed errors to accumulate, so that the subtle shadings of meaning conveyed by sound have been lost.  In other words, one value of Mays’ edition is that it constantly reminds us that poetry is music or nuanced speech and that it originates in a rhythm or a sound.  Perhaps the poems have been dusted off and remounted, but many have been retuned—or, it may be better to say that we can come closer to hearing the poems played on their original instruments.  At a time when editorial theory is hotly disputed between those who adhere to one set of principles and those who advocate another, it is comforting to find an editor who places the poetry first, and accommodates editorial practice to the poetry.

       Finally, we must be as grateful for the editor as for the edition.  At the Coleridge Conference last summer I quoted E. P. Thompson’s praise of David




Erdman as most generous scholar he had ever met.  On further reflection, I’ve found that all the editors of the Collected Coleridge are eager to share their knowledge and research with others.  Jim Mays’ generosity is exemplary.  One need only look at the acknowledgements section of books published in the last ten years to see how often he is thanked.   And he will be thanked and admired by future generations of scholars, who will benefit from his edition.  There are forms of scholarship that are bound to their historical period, that serve compelling interests of a decade or so, and there are others that are of permanent value—such is Mays’ edition.


Paul Cheshire




THE IDEA to invite several contributors to review the new Collected Coleridge Poetical Works is, in itself, a testament to the scale of that work.  The parable of the several blind men investigating by touch the nature of an elephant and coming up with widely divergent descriptions came immediately to mind, and I feel less hesitant to present my own modest encounter in the knowledge that it will be one of many.

       The emphasis of the reviews I have already seen published has been, quite rightly, on the wealth of new material; the vast collection of new variant texts of the poems we already knew, and the many minor poems that have been discovered since 1912.  Grumbles have been heard regarding getting to grips with the new lay-out system for the variorum text volume, but really this is like getting used to a software upgrade: what at first seems counter-intuitive becomes second nature after repeated use.  What we get in return for our effort is a view of Coleridge’s poems that fulfils all the expectations of modern scholarship: not only, as Jim Mays puts it, by “removing the accretions of earlier editors and printers, to allow the original brushwork to shine through”, but also (to extend his analogy) by applying X-ray techniques to the paintings and so recover the hidden layers that show us the artist’s process of composition in unprecedented detail. 

       The starting point for my own encounter was my loss of innocence in 2001, when I realised how flawed the 1912 E. H. Coleridge edition was.  I could give minor examples from The Eolian Harp, the poem whose text I was working on at the time, but these are nothing beside the astonishing case of the poem To John Thelwall which EHC first transcribed from the Rugby Manuscript (now the Harry Ransom Centre Manuscript) for his edition (EHC PW II 1090).  EHC made six transcription errors in this sixteen line poem: line 7 has “a” in place of “her”; line 8 has “there” in place of “thou”; line 10 has “ease” in place of “woe”, and finally, line 14 has three mistakes: EHC’s “A Myrtle




Crown inwove with Cyprian bough—” should read “The Myrtle Crown inwove with Cypress boughs—” (my emphases). 

       This is from the standard edition of Coleridge’s poetical works published over 90 years ago and reprinted twenty-two times up to 1989 (the date of my paperback edition) by one of our leading university presses. It seems astonishing that although no revisions were made to this edition, it retained throughout its 90 year life-span (for surely it is dead now?) its status as the prime variorum textual authority.  Presumably a similar complacency must have lain, at least partially, behind the decision not to make the Poetical Works a priority for the Bollingen Collected Works, although one suspects other non-literary Bread and Cheese factors may also have played their part: Jack Stillinger, writing in 1994, regarded the edition (presumably with inside knowledge) as ready for publication at that date.  Jim Mays’ edition, then, has been as long-awaited as a return of Halley’s Comet—and it has been worth the wait.  I can assure the reader, to return to my earlier example, that he has provided two transcriptions of 130 Irregular Sonnet: to John Thelwall from the Harry Ransom Centre Manuscript and that they are both, of course, absolutely correct.

       The wealth of new material is so overwhelming that it could cause the reader initially to overlook the other editorial services provided: the headnotes and footnotes to the Reading Texts.  In 157 Sonnet: to William Linley, Esq., While he Sang a Song to Purcell’s Music, for example, Mays’ brief scene setting in the headnote opens up the significance of the poem.  Coleridge was visiting Linley at William Bowles’ home in September 1797 to discuss progress on the unfinished Osorio, the play on which he was pinning all his financial hopes, but whose composition was causing him problems. Linley shared in the management of Drury Lane Theatre with R. B. Sheridan for whom the play was being written.  The setting of the poem is highly charged.  It isn’t a public concert, as one might have thought, but a job interview mediated by his revered mentor, in the course of which his potential employer offers musical diversion.  It is a revelation to re-read the poem in that context. 

       Another example from the headnotes is Mays’ use of the single adjective “ventriloqual” to characterise the mode of Coleridge’s address to Hartley in 171 Frost at MidnightEditorial notes are meant to be suggestive—we don’t want to be pushed into an interpretative view-point, we want shafts of illumination from a figure who then stands back to allow us our own one-to-one relationship with the text.  That adjective ‘ventriloqual’ illuminated for me Wordsworth’s poetical addresses to Dorothy and a similar passage in another poem I had been reading, which had made me want to revisit Frost at Midnight.  That single word was enough to crystallise the unformed idea I had been searching for.

       Stepping back from detailed examples, and given that a scholarly event of this magnitude is only going to recur within a comet’s time cycle, it is interesting to wonder how this work might be viewed in 90 years. The hallmark




of this edition, and possibly of the scholarly ideals of our age, is what could be described as a striving towards editorial negative capability; the editor seeking to avoid (under the mistaken notion of correcting) the imposition of his values or judgments on what was originally written: all the material is to be presented as found.  In accordance with this attitude, there is no attempt in the layout of this edition to judge between the status of the different kinds of poem: short humorous album verses rub shoulders democratically with what we know (or should I say consider) to be the great poems, thus dispensing, to quote from Plato’s disparagement of democracy in the Republic, “a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike” [1]

       Well, the truth is that we can’t have it both ways, and Jim Mays makes a very good case for his approach. The inclusion of the minor or lighter verse alongside the great poems offers us a new view of the poet: we discover how much of his poetic creativity was poured into amusement, and, to pick up a point well made in Mays’ introduction, the contextualisation of major and minor poems written at the same time is frequently illuminating. 

       So although the aspiration not to hold a position is still a position, and one that is likely to be re-evaluated by later generations, the great claim that can be made for this edition is that it offers all the material necessary for such future re-evaluations to be made.  Now that we finally have this monumental treasury of scholarship, my hope is that it won’t suffer the fate of the E. H. Coleridge edition and remain static for the next 90 years. The publisher must be persuaded of the need to maintain it.  As Herman Melville wrote: “small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity”.  Whether this happens will depend on the factors that Melville categorised in the same passage as “Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience”.  As Coleridge always recognised, we must live in hope.


Anya Taylor




IN THIS meticulous, calmly assured, and vast new edition, numerous discoveries, presented as a continuum with the poems we know, tilt Coleridge toward jocularity and flirtatiousness. Jim Mays has tracked down the young ladies who received Coleridge’s attentions in his first bloom of 1789-1793. The Devonshire belles, Fanny Nesbitt, Miss Dashwood Bacon, and her sister Ann Bacon, precede Mary Evans in receiving his anacreontic verses, which lead by hook or crook to the cave of the pixies. Our giddy, bright-eyed,




and very young Lothario writes in their albums (which he puns as ‘al-bums’) and in their Commonplace Books. Girlish albums continue to fill during the years with spontaneous gallantries, scribbled and forgotten, until Jim found them. Close to his sister Nancy, Coleridge seems to have known how to talk to girls, and, though he failed to find an intellectual equal among them, he kept himself and them in a tizzy of chatter. He saw the dangerous males circling them, and feared for their virtue, recognizing the theater as a site of seduction (poems 148 and 149). Dorothy Wordsworth’s first view of him bounding down a hill and over a fence takes on new richness in the context of these ebullient songs, which outnumber the laments for lost love. Real sisters in twos and threes come in waves to entrance him, and Jim knows where he met them; they play piano and harp and sing duets and trios. With married sisters later in life, Coleridge versified while their husbands worked or struggled with failure. Jim Mays has amassed these verses –some trivial, most metrically skilled—to show us a Coleridge who was a social poet as well as the lonely poet of the well-known narratives, a constantly practicing poet who had a life beyond addiction and sorrow. Perhaps these verses will lead us to recognize the humor, rather than the irony, in the prose (in the Biographia Literaria, for instance), for like Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, Coleridge dearly loved a laugh.

       Parlor games, improvisations, jokes, charades, musical dialogues, acrostics, Latin puns, and metrical challenges entertained not only homebound girls and women but also, later, nephews and pseudo-nephews. Those Regency drawing rooms grand or cozy were sites of play; Jim Mays finds Coleridge’s sprezzatura, his by-blows, invitations to dinner, apologies for tipsiness, greetings to shaving mugs, tea kettles, and tooth jars, odes to tell-tale red noses. A new category that Mays delicately calls ‘lavatorial verses’ reveals Coleridge’s enthusiasm for bathroom humor, bums, and the discretion of cats, a new trove that will entice Freudians.  I thought I had found all Coleridge’s drinking songs in my chapter on Coleridge père in Bacchus in Romantic England, but see that I missed at least one, his last from 1832, poem 677, ‘The Irish Orator’s Booze: A Sonnet’—I hadn’t wanted to ask Jim to do my research for me, so I never asked if there were others.  Seeing these verses all together in the reading texts of the first two volumes (with variants wisely saved for volumes 3 and 4) confirms a feeling of STC as a sensuous, responsive man.  Even when doddering in his late fifties he tossed off verses to previously unnoticed old belles of Highgate puttering in their gardens.

       Jim’s decision not to relegate ‘kinds like epigram and compliment, and differently, drama and translation’ to appendices adds sparkle to Coleridge’s personality. ‘It is frivolous,’ Jim writes, ‘to believe that poetry demands portentousness… An edition should display—not obscure—the variety and vitality of his mind working’ (lxxxviii). This edition reveals ‘Coleridge’s mind turning instinctively toward metrical expression and his interest in technical opportunities’ (lxxxix); it shows him hearing and formulating as a poet




throughout his life, rather than abandoning poetry for prose. The pervasiveness of Schiller over many years bears out Michael John Kooy’s carefully plotted discoveries in Coleridge Schiller, and Aesthetic Education (Palgrave, 2001). With his customary wide range of literary reference, Mays explains that translating Schiller for Coleridge ‘was an education in the same way that translating Petrarch was for Wyatt and imitating Milton was for Keats—that is both technically and morally’ (xci).  This edition is an education in people, birds, plants, Greek dialects and West Country accents, slave trade debates, Casimir and, among much else, Coleridge’s views on Christening. Years of tracking down manuscripts, sending inquiries to provincial theaters, translating sometimes smutty Latin, and otherwise ‘slithering among possibilities’ (cvii) have not dulled Mays’s own wit, as in this dry remark: ‘Wordsworth’s question, ‘Why is the harp of Quantock silent?’ states a preference, not a fact’ (xcii).

       I attach a photo I took of Jim on a walk down from Dunster Castle, talking about verse and the Cornish coastal path, and shopping for gifts for our five-year-old granddaughters who both, in the summer of 2002, favored pink and played with Barbies.  Jim’s work shows that Coleridge is a fountain and not a leak in someone else’s tank; primed by metrical exercises and translations, he flows on in constant play. Little did I know that the very evening of our walk Jim would unveil his discoveries about earlier generations of the dysfunctional Coleridge family, which he had dug up in Parish registers when he dropped his mother to have tea with her friends. I like that glimpse of the loving son researching the family history of a man who refused to go to his mother’s funeral, for good reasons, no doubt.


Morton D. Paley




AN INTELLIGENCE AGENT stationed at the parking lot of the Huntington Library one morning early in the last decade of the 20th century would have observed two men transferring sets of documents from one car to another, having obviously met for just that purpose.  The documents were clearly files or dossiers, and there were a great many of them.  Words like “confidential” and “safekeeping” would have been overheard before the documents disappeared into the trunk of the recipient’s car and he secreted himself in the recesses of the Library.  The agent, known of course under the code name “Spy Nosy,” would have delivered this information to his superiors, along with a note saying that with his high powered binoculars he could see that the documents seemed to consist of numerous versions of single lines, evidently some kind of cipher.

       I can now confess that it was I who received those precious papers, and




that my accomplice was R. A. Foakes, to whom I shall always be grateful.  I was then engaged in the research for the Coleridge chapter of my Apocalypse and Millennium in English Romantic Poetry, and I was finding the going hard.  The most recent text of Coleridge’s complete poems was still the edition of E. H. Coleridge, originally published in 1912.  Although a fine work by the editorial standards of the early twentieth century, EHC’s Complete Poetical Works took the 1836 Poetical Works as its text and was limited in the amount (and sometimes the reliability) of its variora; while what largely interested me was the ways in which Coleridge had revised his poems on apocalyptic and/or millennial themes.  Accordingly, I found myself doing a considerable amount of work with manuscripts in British and American collections, the pleasure of which was qualified by my knowledge that an edition of the collected poems was being prepared for the Collected Coleridge by the distinguished scholar J. C. C. Mays. I began to feel that I was re-inventing the wheel, and accordingly I made inquiries about the edition in progress.  I was delighted to learn that Professor Foakes had a preliminary printout of the texts, and that Professor Mays would authorize him to let me use what I needed. I. This act of extraordinary generosity on the part of a scholar whom I had never even met has, I think, few parallels, and Jim was later to double his benefaction to help my research for Coleridge’s Later Poetry.  I corresponded with him on numerous points of detail, being at first careful to use his surname so as not to be considered a presumptuous American, until he wrote to me “I have never had such a long correspondence using last names only, with the exception of the Inland Revenue.”

       When I first looked at the poems that are now among the Variorum Texts that now compose volume 2 of the new Poetical Works, I was dumbfounded.  Here were the variora, to be sure, but where was the principal text?  Like most scholars of my generation, I had been taught that the editio princeps was the last edition that the author had had a chance to see through the press.  To be sure, I had become aware as a teacher of the painful limitations of such a definition.  I was not willing to use the 1849-50 Prelude for my Wordsworth seminar when the 1805-06 was available, nor did I want to use the much-revised 1907 version of Roderick Hudson in place of the one published more than a quarter of a century earlier.  (Mays’s Introduction cites, among other examples, Marianne Moore’s final reduction of “Poetry,” one of her most splendid poems, to three lines.)  I saw that the Mays edition privileged no text (although there would of course be “reading texts” in the first volume), but instead gave each line of every known version in series.  Once I had mastered the editorial codes, I found this was ideal for my purpose, as I could follow the changes in Coleridge’s thought through the various versions by going down the page.  In fact, I found an aesthetic pleasure in this kind of scanning, an effect that may not have been at all intended by the editor.  Space permits mentioning but a few of the glories of the Mays edition, including about one hundred poems published for the first time, the re-dating of numerous poems or versions, and




the restoration of the plays to the place of importance that they deserve.

       I was subsequently to spend some time with Jim at a Coleridge Colloquium in Zurich, at his house in County Wicklow, and at the Coleridge conference in Cannington. I found him to be as genial (to use a Coleridgean word), as learned, and as intellectually generous in person as he had been in correspondence.  If I were to choose one memory from the many happy ones of our association, it would be of the end on a walk on the cliffs over the Bristol Channel near Parracombe.  Jim knew the area well, having spent part of his boyhood there.  We ended at a pub called Hunter’s Inn, which served a wonderful hard cider.  There were outdoor tables with trees around them, and the late afternoon sun filtered through the leaves. Now, in imagination, I raise a glass of that cool cider in honor of Jim Mays.


Edoardo Zuccato




HOWEVER prosaic it may seem, I always associate Jim Mays’s edition of Coleridge’s poems for the Collected Coleridge with heavy A4 sheet boxes. Jim supervised my doctorate between 1988 and 1992 and, most generously, he made available to me that impressive mass of unpublished material, which travelled with me back and forth from his office in UCD and his impressive home library in picturesque Killiney, Dublin to Maynooth. Everyone can imagine the astonishing work behind such an edition; it was quite an experience to see it under way, though only for a short section of his long history. Going through the thousands of pages (one by one as there was no index at that stage) of what I had so far known as a modest two-volume set was both daunting and exciting. Though nobody had ever questioned the historic relevance of Coleridge as a poet, the mere size of the new edition obliged one to re-think the significance of the poems as part of both his works and British literary history. On recycled paper of various colours—a rather unassuming look which probably had some editorial function—I discovered that Coleridge was much more than the author of the Ancient Mariner and a few other favourite poems. There were unpublished epigrams which brought forward the comic side of an otherwise tragic author—or, to say the least, a very serious one; there were the plays, which were rightly treated as an essential part of his poetic output rather than as an unfortunate appendix; there were the best-known poems, which also had to be re-read because Mays’s text was sometimes very different from what we had commonly seen before; and—last but not least—there were the notes and the variants to the text, two invaluable resources which, for example, made one reconsider Coleridge as a metricist, a subject we all wish we knew something more about. Although it seems that




Coleridge understood Italian metrics only partially, his speculation on the subject helped him think about the metrical principles of English and German ballads. I suspect that these reflections, analyzed organically together with his notes and experiments on Classical and English metrics, would give us a new sense of how his poetry developed over the years. The material and the tools for such an investigation are now available and, hopefully, someone will look after it in the near future.

       Translations were of special interest to me, as I was investigating Coleridge’s knowledge of Italian culture. Jim Mays’s edition included many of them with their original texts in the notes. Again, these translations form an impressive and underrated section of Coleridge’s writings. Tracing the source of a text which sounded like a version from an unknown original was very exciting. It was, in that specific case, one of Petrarch’s sonnets, which brought to light a surprising and enduring interest of the Coleridge family in Italian poetry. Above all, it was the amazing number of versions and adaptations in the collection that showed how relevant some eighteenth-century, non-Romantic writing practices still were to Coleridge.

       Going back to the edition as a whole, it was the strictly chronological order of those piles of sheets that gave one the immediate impression of a continuity and a variety in Coleridge’s verse which had remained concealed in the previous editions. Contrary to the legend that Coleridge himself had constructed, he was, always and essentially, a poet; and, unlike some of his self-assured contemporaries, he was a poet of many voices. Paradoxically, only Byron, but in a very different way, was as polyphonic a poet as Coleridge. Opposites meet, as Coleridge might have remarked.  Today observations of this kind have been given such a firm basis that they may sound like truisms; it never used to be like that with the old editions of Coleridge’s poems, where texts were arranged according to a hierarchy of poetic genres established by Wordsworth and accepted as self-evident by subsequent criticism. Correcting this historical forgery and giving back Coleridge the poet a life independent of Wordsworth are two of the greatest merits of Mays’s edition.




[1]          The Dialogues of Plato, trans. B. Jowett (OUP First Pub. 1871, 4th Edn 1953), 4 Vols, II 426.  I quote from this edition conscious of the irony that, unlike the EHC Coleridge, it has been revised in the light of subsequent scholarship under the auspices of the very same leading university press!