Often, these poems are closely related to the work of Romantic writers Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The former’s Conversation Poems is usually heralded as the best example of this particular verse writing style.
Explore the Conversation Poem
Conversation Poem Definition
Conversation poems are examples of verse that are directed at someone specific. More often than not, this person is close to the poet and well aware of their opinion on certain topics and ideas already.
This means that the writer’s tone may be more informal than it would be if they were addressing a stranger.
As noted above, Coleridge and Wordsworth have the best-known examples of these poems. But, there are many other more contemporary examples as well.
Examples of Conversation Poems
Conversation Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Coleridge’s Conversation Poems is a collection of eight poems written between 1795 and 1807. Every poem is different, but generally, they touch on nature and the poet’s experience with it. The poems were not grouped together until the 20th century, when literary critics began examining this particular style of poetry. The eight poems in this collection are:
- ‘The Eolian Harp’
- ‘Reflections on Having Left a Place of Retirement’
- ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’
- ‘Frost at Midnight’
- ‘Fears in Solitude’
- ‘The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem’
- ‘Dejection: An Ode’
- ‘To William Wordsworth’
Frost at Midnight by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
‘Frost at Midnight’ is one of Coleridge’s better-known conversation poems. It is generally well-regarded by critics and explores how people draw close to God through a close examination of nature. The first stanza begins with:
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
The poet suggests that if one spends time in nature, communing with the mountains, hills, lakes, and more, they will know God better. His creation is an important way of understanding him.
Fears in Solitude by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This conversation poem is historically significant. The speaker discusses the threats his country is facing and his desire to stand with his homeland but also expresses his difference in opinion. The poem begins with the lines:
A green and silent spot, amid the hills,
A small and silent dell ! O’er stiller place
No singing sky-lark ever poised himself.
The hills are heathy, save that swelling slope,
Which hath a gay and gorgeous covering on,
All golden with the never-bloomless furze,
Which now blooms most profusely : but the dell
The speaker expresses a feeling of solitude when he’s within nature. It’s a place where he can feel closer to God. The poem discusses the speaker’s desire for peace in the world as the lines progress.
Read more Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems.
Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth
‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,’ also known as ‘Tintern Abbey,’ is one of Wordsworth’s best-known poems. It’s also his best-known conversation poem. The piece describes a speaker’s return to a specific spot along the banks of the River Wye and his understanding of nature. It is lyrical in nature, as most conversation poems are, and has elements of a dramatic monologue.
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Discover more William Wordsworth poems.
To write a conversation poem, you need to direct the lines of your poem to a specific person, someone you know well. This person should understand your thinking and therefore understand any allusions or examples of figurative language you use. Speak about a topic close to your understanding of the world, like nature, religion, or the meaning of life, in informal but still poetic language.
Conversation poems are directed at someone the poet knows well. The best examples are Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s conversation poems, like ‘To William Wordsworth.’ These poems use informal language but are still written in the poet’s elevated style. Most consider nature, religion, and solitude.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is well-known for his conversation poems. They include ‘The Eolian Harp,’ ’Reflections on Having Left a Place of Retirement,’ and ’This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison.’
Related Literary Terms
- Block Form: used to describe a poem that is not separated into stanzas or verse paragraphs. These poems are contained within one “block” of text.
- Companion Poems: pieces of poetry that were written to accompany one another. They can also be poems written by multiple authors in response to one another.
- Devotional Poetry: refers to poems that express worship or prayer. They’re most commonly religious in nature.
- Found Poetry: a type of poem that’s created using someone else’s words, phrases, or structure.
- Idyll: a type of short poem that describes rural life or a natural scene.
- Implied Reader: the person to whom the author directs their writing. It is usually the person, or type of person, they believe would most enjoy or benefit from their literature.
- Read: Romanticism
- Watch: Coleridge and Romanticism
- Watch: Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the Poetic Revolution