Proceedings chapter
Open access

“even now,/ Ev'n now” : Coleridge's interval

ContributorsSwift, Simon
Published inThe Challenge of Change, Editors Tudeau-Clayton, M. & Martin Hilpert, M., p. 143-160
Presented at Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 28-29 April 2017
PublisherTübingen : Narr Francke Attempto
  • SPELL : Swiss papers in English language and literature; 36
Publication date2018

This essay focuses on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of 1798 "Fears in Solitude" in order to explore the peculiarities of a thinking of the present time as an interval between past and future in Romantic lyric poetry. Where Modernist prose might be understood, after Hannah Arendt, to describe the present as a gap or lag between different historical epochs, Coleridge's lyric present finds ways to make the past and future iterable within a presentation of the “now” as a moment of suspension. It does so through its play on a number of temporal markers such as “still,” “yet,” “meanwhile” and “even now,” and through its uses of grammatical tense (especially the present perfect) in scoping forms of time. I situate Coleridge's present tense in relation to the topographical verse of the earlier Eighteenth Century from which he took inspiration, and point to some of the ways in which he anticipates a sense of the present as both urgent and empty time in later thinking about political and ecological states of emergency. Ultimately, I argue, Coleridge's interval yields a time of the now in which the sources of comfort become difficult to distinguish from the sources of vulnerability, and in which the prospect of redemption becomes entangled with the prospect of catastrophe.

  • Coleridge
  • Lyric
  • Romanticism
  • Present tense
  • Catastrophe
  • War
Citation (ISO format)
SWIFT, Simon. “even now,/ Ev’n now” : Coleridge’s interval. In: The Challenge of Change. Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Tübingen : Narr Francke Attempto, 2018. p. 143–160. (SPELL : Swiss papers in English language and literature)
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Proceedings chapter (Published version)
  • PID : unige:124563

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