Coleridge, Samuel Taylor - Preface to Christabel - On Plagiarism
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Preface to Christabel
The first part of the following poem was written in the year 1797….. the second part after my return from Germany in the year 1800.
It is probable that if the poem had been finished at either of the former periods, or if even the first and second part had been published in the year 1800, the impression of its originality would have been much greater than I dare at present to expect. But for this, I have only my own indolence to blame.
The dates are mentioned for the exclusive purpose of precluding charges of plagiarism or servile imitation by myself. For there is amongst us a set of critics, who seem to hold, that every possible thought and image is traditional; who have no notion that there are such things as fountains in the world, small as well as great; and who would therefore charitably derive every rill they behold flowing from a perforation made in some man’s tank.
I am confident, however, that as far as the present poem is concerned, the celebrated poets whose writings I might be suspected of having imitated, either in particular passages or in the tone and the spirit of the whole, would be amongst the first to vindicate me from the charge and who, on any striking coincidence, would permit me to address them in this doggerel version of the two monkish Latin Hexameters:
‘Tis mine and it is likewise yours;
But and if this will not do;
Let it be mine, good friend, for I
Am much the poorer of the two