‘The Making of Poetry’ by Adam Nicholson

Freya Johnston at The Guardian:

William Hazlitt recorded many peculiarities of his teenage idol Samuel Taylor Coleridge, among which was the habit of walking zig-zag fashion in front of his companion, “unable to keep on in a straight line” while endlessly, brilliantly, talking. Unlike William Wordsworth, Coleridge was said to prefer composing his verses while on uneven ground, “or breaking through the straggling branches of a copse-wood”, terrain he considered more likely than a smooth, uninterrupted surface to foster the making of poetry.

Such descriptions might prompt scepticism, and not only because Hazlitt was writing many years after his first meeting with Coleridge. They seem too conveniently to display, with the benefit of hindsight, what were soon to become glaringly obvious fault lines in temperament between Coleridge and Wordsworth; between a mind that was capriciously rangy, self-destructive, ill disciplined and a mind that was determined, judicious, self-possessed.

more here.