Saturday, 11 April 2015

On Reading Coleridge

I have just returned from a poetry retreat day at Otley Hall with three things I didn't have before: a much more intimate knowledge of Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a reading list that ranges from St John Chrysostom to G K Chesterton, and a desire to mow a labyrinth into our back garden.

I have also returned with a poem, which I wrote as a response to Malcolm Guite's unpacking of Coleridge's poetry, and which I had the privilege of hearing Malcolm read aloud. Having heard recordings of him reading so many of his own poems, this was an unforgettable experience.

Here is the poem. I owe the Schroedinger image to Keren Dibbens-Wyatt, who wrote on Holy Saturday that Jesus was 'Schroedinger's saviour' in the tomb. The rest I owe to Coleridge and Malcolm Guite!

On Reading Coleridge

A sudden glimpse of everything connected
and I am outside, and invited in.
The circle of the God who loves the world
and loves me, broken through my sin
and ready for renewal, as the shoot
breaks through the bulb, and earth imagines spring.
Schroedinger's chrysalis hangs in the balance -
inside, a caterpillar dreams a wing,
imagining those painted sails unfurled.
How can you read the whole world like a poem
until you've read a poem like the world?


  1. Love it, Amy! Glad to have helped you imagine a teensy bit of such a great poem. The last four lines in particular are utterly beautiful. And I can't stand Coleridge myself, but that might be from slaving over Lyrical Ballads back in the Sixth Form!

  2. I always find (nearly always find perhaps) that when a person's work is opened up by a really good lecturer at, for example, a 'Quiet Day' or similar, you can find yourself going away feeling that at last you've seen 'into it' in a way that at school one never did. Val Cunningham (Ox Eng LIt professor) opened up DH Lawrence's poetry simpatheticaly for me a few years ago (since when have I read Lawrence? Well, actually, no, but it did open my mind to it!) Re Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads, yes, they were not really for 17 year old girls of today, were they?!