I readily believe that there are more invisible beings in the universe than visible. But who will declare to us the nature of all these, the rank, relationships, distinguishing characteristics and qualities of each? What is it they do? Where is it they dwell? Always the human intellect circles around the knowledge of these mysteries, never touching the centre. Meanwhile it is, I deny not, oft-times well pleasing to behold sketched upon the mind, as upon a tablet, a picture of the greater and better world; so shall not the spirit, wonted to the petty concerns of daily life, narrow itself over much, nor sink utterly into trivialities. But mean- while we must diligently seek after truth, and maintain a temperate judgement, if we would distinguish certainty from uncertainty, day from night.
Today we conclude our introduction to Malcolm Guite’s Mariner by examining two more key features of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
As you will remember, yesterday we considered Prophetic Framing and The Sacred Power of Self-Intuition. Today we add Spiritual Force and Prophetic Moment: A Poem on the Threshold.
Though many books have been written about Coleridge, few until now have adequately addressed the rich spirituality woven through his writing, and specifically, the driving and essential power of his Christian faith.
As Malcolm explains:
…prayer, both achieved and despaired of, both abandoned and recovered, weaves constantly in and out of Coleridge’s letters, notebooks, conversation, and actual practice. For Coleridge, as for the mariner, prayer and vision went hand in hand, and the recovery of prayer in his life was not a matter of conventional piety but of spiritual survival. His experience of what he called “the Night-mare Life-in-Death” made prayer, itself, a matter of life and death.
Prophetic Moment: A Poem on the Threshold
Just as we stand now on the cusp of post-modernity with its spiritual ambivalence, Coleridge likewise lived in an age of transition. He rebelled against the Enlightenment’s separation of reason from imagination and was a pioneer in the Romantic Movement. As Malcolm powerfully says:
In this reﬂection Coleridge found himself compelled to reject the mechanistic, clockwork cosmos of Newton, to reject the distant and detached clock-maker that passed for God with many of his contemporaries. Instead he rediscovered for himself the mysterious and suddenly present God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and called himself “I AM,” the mysterious and all-sustaining Word made ﬂesh at Bethlehem, and the life-giving Holy Spirit through whom the imaginations of poets are kindled. After all his peregrinations, Coleridge, like his mariner, found haven and ﬁrm footing at last in the land of the Trinity.