Neither Rime Nor Reason

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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Dreams: Neither Rime Nor Reason         The Romantic period of English Literary dating 1790 to 1832 spawned some of the most individualistic writers of the time. The Norton Anthology refers to this period and conglomeration of authors as "the spirit of the age." Their approaches to writing differed, yet they shared and focused on writing of deep personal content found only in one's mind. Dreams and dreamlike visions became a central subject matter for several of these authors, most significantly Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, John Keats and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

        A dream is intangible and exclusive to the dreamer, easily lending to the deep personal subject matter typical of the Romantics. The inability to explain or understand the origin of sleep was gravely troublesome for a few of the writers, and apparent in works such as Coleridge's "The Pains of Sleep." A footnote on this title indicated that his addiction to opium intensified his nightmares.

Line 48, "To know and loathe, yet wish and do!" is affirmation that Coleridge felt guilt because his nightmares were self-inflicted and fed by opium withdrawal. Thomas De Quincey suffered from the same affliction and discussed his experiences in "The Pains of Opium" from his work Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. In it De Quincey described much of what his counterpart may have felt. His dreams ""¦were accompanied by deep-seated anxiety and gloomy melancholy, such as are wholly incommunicable by words." The subliminal state of both authors agonizingly spilled over into their waking hours as well and was best expressed by De Quincey as ""¦a veil between our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind; accidents of the same sort will also rend away this veil; but alike whether veiled or unveiled, the inscription remains forever." This type of dream, more often...