He knew not what to do

From LRB, an old piece about Coleridge, and how it might have been better had he died young:samuelcoleridge

He knew not what to do – something, he felt, must be done – he rose, drew his writing-desk before him – sate down, took the pen – – found that he knew not what to do.

After the first glorious days of his friendship with Wordsworth, Coleridge set about – or perhaps only resumed – a course of procrastination and ruin from which it seemed decent to avert one’s eyes. His life grew complicated and his poetry sparse, and his achievement took forms that required sometimes unreasonable effort to value.

In December he recognised that ‘I never had the essentials of poetic Genius, – that I mistook a strong desire for original power.’ By March 1801, Coleridge had decided it was all over: ‘The Poet is dead in me.’

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