Particularity and “Intimate Immensity”
Coleridge’s description of the imagination as a power that reconciles or balances the concrete with the general, the individual with the representative, offers, as I have suggested, a means of widening the compass of Romantic aesthetics to include the particular spaces and objects of everyday life. Such physical manifestations are in Coleridge’s terms integral to the imagination’s esemplastic teleology because they ground notions of representative form and the concomitant formulations of universal truth in the distinct realities of matter. To dissever truth from these realities would be to dissever it from nature itself, which Coleridge characterizes as “the prime genial artist, inexhaustible in diverse powers [and] equally inexhaustible in forms.” 1 The poet, accordingly, who seeks to account for the governing truth of nature’s formal inexhaustibility must perforce attend to the particularizing and distinguishing details of individual form. The result, as Mark Storey notes, is a refinement of poetic focus, a penetration of generalized nature, natura naturata, to reveal natural essence, natura naturans (23). Coleridge in fact describes the relationship between the general and the essential as an interpenetration, suggesting that individual form is invested with a power—a truth, if you will—typically associated with representative or, more precisely, with ideal form.