i know the translucence

Never a particular fan of statues, over the past five years I have fundraised for a memorial statue of Samuel Taylor Coleridge to be placed in the town of his birth, Ottery St Mary.

Accepting the convention and tradition of this to honour his life and writing, I also posted over those five years significant information about his writing on social media which was prompted by my intensive reading and research, especially from his notebooks.

The statue, sculptored by Nicholas Dimbleby, was unveiled at St Mary’s Church, Ottery, on 21st October, 2022, the 250th anniversary of Coleridge’s birth. As statues go, it is a fine one, and portrays him in his younger years, striding with walking boots and stick, gazing out and with a notebook in hand to record his thoughts and feelings. The statue itself and its unveiling provided a genuinely upbeat celebration of STC as poet and philosopher, especially for those of us who worked so hard to achieve this.

statue

There was a church service after the unveiling. The statue being placed in the St Mary’s church grounds – where Coleridge’s father was vicar and where Samuel played as a child – it was natural for there to be this other dimension to the day. It was also a natural recognition of Coleridge’s Christian faith and therefore celebrated in the readings and sermon. I didn’t attend the event for various reasons and certainly would have found the church service uncomfortable to be present for and sit through.

This and what I will say next in this paragraph, briefly, are entirely personal thoughts and feelings: I did watch the service, which was streamed live, and I found the total embrace of and focus on Coleridge’s orthodox faith too much to bear, though I do accept much of its reality. However, I was particulalry annoyed with the reading of Romans 8: 18-28 where that Christian notion of personal suffering reeping its spiritual rewards always triggers one of my fundamental objections to Christian faith, and indeed of any religion. More broadly, the entire embrace of this orthodoxy completely shut out acknowledging the pantheism of Coleridge’s other, if more youthful, spiritual beliefs (or more pertinently, feelings) and to a degree also then ignored the statue’s representation of STC in his younger poetic prime.

I therefore wrote the following, personal reflection:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge Memorial Statue
and The Sermon

i

a gift seldom allowed
or accepted
but this to be a rare communion of interests

and the sermon’s appropriation

ii

we had given him to the church
standing on the stone we also gave
placed within their ground/s
~ where he had played ~
and in that consecration of earth

for us, yes, but everyone else too

where he was soon to be completely consumed
by theology

iii

the rain came and the wind blew
and the indigo unveiled
its bronze

iv

a family convened
with the other congregation
and those who could not /
would not attend

where in that moment of celebration

all was as one within us all
which echoed from
another moment of pure coalescence

v

what does not change
is how a sermon will change things
(yet first in the deception
of a reading)

vi

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us

~ Romans 8: 18-28

his rheumatism
his boils
his despair
his fevers
his melancholia
his treacherous bowels
his neuralgia
his creative drought
(his kidney stones,
bladder cancer,
hypochondria)
his constipation
his misery
his gloom
his addiction
his penury:

“O God save me from myself”

unaware he was to be
doctrinally saved

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

vii

aesthetic theory vs christian faith

or even

a light in sound, a sound-like power in light

vs

The Incomprehensible!

viii

NB: for the process toward disillusion, one could blame the French…

ix

NB: for the process toward personal belief and recovery, he writes ‘that selfsame moment I could pray’

x

faith tempered in the crucible of suffering

~ from The Sermon

A great poet* must have the ear of a wild Arab listening in the silent desert…

~ from Goodreads and Samuel Taylor Coleridge; *substitute theologian (imperative from The Sermon)

we see the orthodoxy
we see the symbol
we see the imagination
we see the link

we see the anglicanism
we see the resource
we see the appropriation

x 2

we see the mutuality
we see the spirit
we see the poet
we hear the poet

let us worship the poet

worship the harp
worship the young hope
worship the strength
worship the precocity

worship the reading
worship this interpretation

xi

my confession:

i know the translucence
and the beauty of its language
like the pure crystal
of its symbol

i know the primary imagination
and the I AM
(which is respectfully capitalised)
as the POWER and AGENT

i know the theory of the sublime
worked aesthetically
and not through
suffering

i know
because that
is what
I read

(i know i capitalised)

xii

theology is philosophy
unless you believe in it

xii

but i do not
because of the reproof

and the bidding of him
to be humble
in suffering

in this vain theology of
the sermon

xiii

standing on his stone
beneath the church tower’s bells
it can be only music
and poetry he hears

in the way i have placed him there

Celebrating Coleridge

I am currently winding down my involvement with the Coleridge Memorial Trust as we near the unveiling of our Samuel Taylor Coleridge statue on the 21st October, 2022 – the 250th anniversary of his birth in the town of Ottery St Mary. The statue is to be placed permanently at St Mary’s Church, Ottery.

So this is a personal, celebratory mood, with a very personal celebration of STC from a little while ago: my word re-arrangements from a Coleridge line set to a musical piece from me

On His Birthday

col1

I have recently mentioned on this blog my two Coleridge poetry collections: Ottery’s Aeolian Harp which is an eclectic collection of poems about STC and Ottery St Mary (the town of his birth), and a poet animate in anima poetæ which is a collection of found poems taken from his notebooks, collected as Anima Poetæ. I am now announcing my plans for making these available.

I will place these for sale on the 21st October, 2022, the 250th anniversary of Coleridge’s birth. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the MS Society UK.

Each pamphlet will cost £5, to include UK p+p, or they can both be purchsed at £8 to include UK p+p. I will post more details on this nearer the time.

The following are examples of poems from the booklets, the first pair from OAH, and the second pair from a poet… :

col2col3

When You Want a Room to Yourself

There is a room to rent in the
awesome opportunity of its offering,
available in the immediacy of an

effortless life where such fantasy
is en-suite. Having moved in and on,
it is now yours – no interactive

fiction game, no escaping, no
self-contained alternatives, no looking
for a share. Good is in a room

when you believe.
There are tips for painting your room you:
remove the dreams of those from before;

tape all trims with blue; prime your
work ethic with hopefulness; now brush or roll
anew according to what you have.

However, one night you sleep on the
blind side, envisage having been alone until
turning over to see – oh dear me:

we are in this story
deep now, in this amazing room
that is south facing to

imagination, the space almost
to yourself, still asking the question and wondering
how blue loneliness looks.

Amuse yourself reading
Handy Guides: A Room to Yourself
found in the attic amongst the

broken toys and trunks
left open and not as empty
as you had assumed.

When your thoughts turn negative
ask yourself if you have enough salt and
white sage to scatter and burn

to prevent the need for black tourmaline.
While out driving and in passing you spot the
Spoil Yourself Someday Room Offer sign,

pause and reflect on what Gertrude Stein might
counter about the accommodation you already have
and how tenderness should overcome pondering.