The Political Rhetoric of Coleridge and Yeats

Literature / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
Why Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s `Fears in Solitude` is distinctly different in tone and structure from Anne Yearsley’s “Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade” even though the two poems use several similar techniques

“Though Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s `Fears in Solitude` is about more than just the slave trade, and is distinctly different in tone and structure from Anne Yearsley’s “Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade,” the two poems use several similar, if at times inverted, techniques to make the same point. Both poems denounce the slave trade and basic human cruelty. Their ultimate concern, however, is to praise and define “social love,” and demonstrate how it could make the world a better, kinder and safer place. Yearsley does this by creating a fiction with which the reader can relate, and is therefore free to be as dramatic and detailed as she thinks will be most effective. She looks at the issue from the African perspective, showing the cruelty of the slave trade as it is practiced, and the horror inherent within it for the enslaved. Coleridge, on the other hand, addresses many of the same problems from the British side, using himself and his personal fears as a non-fictional example of the problems that could and will arise from British cruelty overseas. Both poems are politically effective, taking opposite routes to approach the same destination, which is a call to sympathy and “social love.” ”


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