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MICHAEL E. HOLSTEIN Poet into Priest: A Reading of Coleridge's 'Conversation Poems' I In a letter to Francis Wrangham Coleridge describes his mountain view from Greta Hall and characterizes his relationship to nature in a revealing way: 'In truth, my Glass being opposite to the Window, I seldom shave without cutting myself. Some Mountain or Peak is rising out of the Mist, or some slanting Column of misty Sunlight is sailing cross me / so that I offer up soap & blood daily, as an Eye-servant of the Goddess Nature." There is in this self-portrait a large measure of high spirits, but, like any good caricature, its value lies in the accuracy with which the exaggeration recalls the original. The casual reference to the consecration reminds us how freely in his poetry Coleridge appropriates religious language as he shifts the locus of the sacred from traditional religion to his religion of nature. Moreover, in this anecdote Coleridge playfully strikes a priestly pose that he assumes with much gravity in his poems. The persona of the poet-priest results from the transformation of the very identity of the poet as he discovers the divine face of nature. Nature is not merely an object of worship but an occasion of Coleridge's self-definition. And nowhere is the metamorphosis of the spea\


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pp. 209-225
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