What did Coleridge have against the city of Cologne (Köln)?

In 1825, the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote this poem:Cologne
In Kohln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang’d with murderous stones
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o’er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?
Wow. What’s Cologne to him, or he to Cologne, that he should rip it a new one?

Dunno, but the type of mens perfume gets its name from the city, so its doubly weird that Coleridge’s main complaint against the city appears to be its odor.

I suspect that, at least when Coleridge visited the city, the waters of Cologne did not smell like Eau de Cologne.

Also possible he just liked the sound and the fact it could be pronounced as a one syllable word (in German) or two syllables (in English) and lots of things rhymed or played well with either.

I don’t know the answer, but seeing as it was Coleridge, I suspect drugs may have been involved. The man was the Regency Hunter S. Thompson.

I doubt he has anything against Cologne. It’s probably more of a reflection of his own deep self-loathing and the loneliness he might have been experiencing when he lived in Germany (living in Germany was supposed to be the solution to many financial problems, but it wasn’t. It probably made the situation worse, not to mention the fact that his wife wasn’t with him. Not that he seemed to love her that much, but it must have been galling to know that Southey–his ex-BFF and the breakup was acrimonious–was taking care of her and the children because STC was incapable of it). Coleridge didn’t just have issues, he had subscriptions, exacerbated by the drugs, broken relationships, endless regrets, and the pressing sense of insecurity that was almost pathological.

Not so doubly weird: if the city did stink (perhaps due to flooding and poor sanitation?), it would behoove people to wear cologne (the perfume) to cover up the stench.

I wonder if he knew that the name Köln came from the Latin “Colonia” when it was briefly a Roman colony, because that would have given him more things to rhyme with. (Bologna, “I’m lonely heah”, “I wanna bone ya”, etc.)

Indeed. I’ve heard that the move to standardizing the use of perfume was to solve the issue of the lack of proper bathing before indoor plumbing.

See, I looked up the history of Cologne to figure this out, and clearly I should have been reading up on the bio of “S. T.” Coleridge instead. I didn’t remember that he’d spent time living in Germany.

The Wikipedia entry for Coleridge indicates he only traveled there for a year or two - apparently he didn’t care to spend very much of even that relatively short time in Cologne!

Well Coleridge was quite the asshole. He wrote two pieces insulting Cologne. On 1828 he and Wordsworth journeyed through Holland, Flanders and up the Rhine. Coleridge was delighted by the trip but disgusted by the filthy habits of the people.

Of the Dutch he said:

The Dutch seem very happy and comfortable, certainly; but it is the happiness of animals. In vain do you look for the sweet breath of hope and advancement among them.

Specimens of the table talk of the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Subscribing because Dopers who can actually post about this kind of thing are way the hell above my level of literature comprehension, and I might actually learn something.

Coleridge had no room to dis other towns or countries. England was a festering shithole for many centuries, and the Thames was a not-so-running sewer.

Coleridge spent most of his life not in London, and the Lake District or Somerset were not, as far as I know, festering sewers or disgusting shitholes.

One of the greatest poets in the English language.

The Ryme of the ancient mariner is unsurpassed.

I’m sure he must have visited London, yes? I would suspect his comments were just part of the popular sport of German-bashing.

He went to school at Christ’s Hospital, in the City of London, from the age of 8 to the age of 18, so he was more than a visitor to London. But most of the rest of his life was outside London.

“I’m lonely heah!!!”
Even I, drug inspired, or brain addled from hitting my head on the pavement after laying down my bike, would NEVER rhyme that with 'Bologna/Colonia."

I am now, officially, in love!
(Stalking soon to follow.)
Best wishes,

OK, I’ve spent a few days Googling here and there and have not been able to turn up more than that one anti-Cologne work of Coleridge’s. What’s the other one?

“On My Joyful Departure from the Same City”:

(Rudesheimer is a type of white wine; “Mr. Mum’s” firm is nowadays more widely known for its champagnes.)

(Thank you Oslo Ostragoth, and welcome to the Straight Dope! :slight_smile: )