Poetry 2011 / Volume 42

Coleridge and Wordsworth’s Gang — Ann Struthers

Coleridge, scholar, was reading Spinoza,
so when Walsh, reliable spy sent by
the Home Office, quizzed locals, “Who? Why?
tramping about? taking notes on the sly!”
Coleridge found out and renamed him Spy Nozy.

Suspicious “Sett of Violent Democrats
gathered around Tom Poole, surely a gang,”
Walsh reported. Poole’s and Coleridge’s names
were known as radicals, but Coleridge’s sang­-
froid prevailed. He chuckled; they were saucy
cats

of brighter stripe, not traitors. The
Concern had been their title. Now,
amused, he, William Wordsworth and his
sister, Dorothy, Coleridge’s wife, Sarah,
and baby, Hartley, adopted the damning
sobriquet and turned

it to their own. Criminally drastic,
they meant to kidnap British poetry,
bring in common speech, shepherds, country
people, peddlers. And imaginary
snakes, ghost ships, spirits. Raise the fantastic.

Lucy, violet by a stone, Kubla Khan,
Ancient Mariner, emerging by their hands.

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