When the Romantic Period (1785-1830) was in action, poets explored and wrote about various parts of the mind that cognitivists today study. A cognitivist concept is qualia, which is in short, how a person is impacted by an experience both mentally and physically. What is their response to what they experienced? In that period of time qualia had not been a hot topic for cognitivists to explore, yet poetry of the time period seem to encompass elements of qualia within them.
In this section, we will be exploring how two Romantic poets, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge use this concept of qualia in their poetry and how qualia is an integral part of our experiences and the experiences the poets portray in their poems. The poems which we will delve into and explore are “Frost at Midnight” and “The Pain of Sleep” by Coleridge and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “Tintern Abbey”. In these poems they contain different types of qualia ranging from qualia of memory, qualia of perception, to qualia as an expression of emotions and qualia acting as a vehicle.
We will be discovering how each of the four poems use this concept to explain various experiences which the poets discuss. In “Frost at Midnight”, Coleridge discusses how the quietness of the cabin he is in made him think and the various thoughts that were triggered as a result. Coleridge’s other poem “The Pain of Sleep” talks Coleridge experiencing a withdrawal from an opiate. In Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” he discusses an account where he is looking down on a slew of daffodils and how they appear to be dancing, and then he reflects on the experience and how it impacted him two years later. And lastly, in “Tintern Abbey” upon his revisit of the Banks of Wye he tells his present impact and retells how the Banks of Wye impacted him years ago as a child.