ABSTRACT

In the half-lyrical, half-topical poem "Fears in Solitude," Coleridge employs the real threat of French invasion—the imperative for the composition of the poem—as a metaphor for the recreative power of the secondary imagination and the epistemological instability of generic categories. The poem demonstrates the secondary imagination's ability to dissolve the conceptual boundaries that purportedly divide private lyric utterance and public political discourse by delicately balancing the historical pressures of the day with the Romantic desire for imaginative activity. Instead of conflicting voices vying for supremacy in "Fears in Solitude," we are confronted by the paradoxical coexistence of competing categories always vulnerable to infiltration.