This is no doubt a little self-indulgent, but my dear, wise and perceptive friend Jackie Moore has always taken a keen, supportive interest in my poetry.
In October she contributed observations on my poem Happy Birthday STC posted here, and consequently on Coleridge himself which are, as ever, insightful – and I mean about STC – as well as generous about what she reads in my writing. These observations were in the comment section of blog postings, and separated across three entries.
In blog-tidying today, I have amalgamated these and am sharing:
‘I was absorbed into this poem, especially as I recognise the Sonnet to the River Otter. The mood is complex, instantaneously summoning the unsullied joy of the youth, seeing and being surrounded by beauty where the music is enchanting with visions of vitality in those translucent waters. Yet there are shadows of future unhappiness and care; perhaps some autobiographical touches. Yes, indeed, genius rests on the overcoming of the present for the universal, of an individual absorbed into the human situation where sadness probably dominates joy. The boy Coleridge was absorbed watching the river’s leaps; as a man, he numbered cares until he found a way to silence such misery.
I wondered if the lyric on ‘light’ had any connections with the ‘light’ tones and hues of this poem? Numbering its light leaps!
For me, this is when he was at his pantheistic purity, at one spiritually with Nature and happiness and whatever God played its part in this, though many wiser people then me point to his Christian orthodoxy, perhaps later than when this was written, and to his Theological writings and so on – I cling to the idea of this entirely creative spirituality even if it is simply because that’s what I want to believe!
The image of the ‘ducks and drakes’ is ingenious and apt. Things which gave such delight when Coleridge – universally ‘us’ – was young change over time, becoming those threatening and rather sinister elements which are submerged in our minds as we grow older – always disturbing, menacing. In fact this poem may well suggest mutability, how changes are wrought over the passage of time, seldom in an ameliorative sense. This brings to mind Thomas a Kempis’s warning [sic] ‘Transit Gloria Mundi’. All too often as we age, it is the spiritual element which enriches and sustains, as in Mike’s poetry. I think this could be a link with the initial prose poem [here] about colours: unstable, changing, calm and threatening.’
Thank you Jackie.