The End Of The Beginning

The lighthouse top at Watchet Harbour: the beacon of vision, the light of reason, and a lifelong delight in philosophy.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

Lines 21–24

Rick WilcoxThis week we read Chapter One and began to see remarkable parallels in the Ancient Mariner’s journey with Coleridge’s own.  In the poem, as the chew embarks, they sail beyond the view of the kirk, the hill, and the lighthouse top.

Coleridge’s childhood was like all others in one respect; it informed and shaped the man he was to become.  Growing older is inevitable but growing up is not.  The phenomenon of delayed adolescence is perhaps a modern one, but even in Coleridge’s day, the end of sequestered childhood at nine years of age would have been difficult for even the hardiest souls.  Trial was Samuel’s tutor.

Malcolm Guite wrote:

We have a rich source for understanding Coleridge’s childhood experience in the poet’s own writings. In his notebooks and letters and in his poetry itself he reached back to understand the forces that had shaped him for good and ill, and wrote about them with extraordinary intensity. Indeed, he would later define a poet as a person who retained a child’s capacity for intense vision and wonder: “In the Poet was comprehended the man who carries the feelings of Childhood onto the powers of Manhood, who with a soul unsubdued, unshackled by custom, can contemplate all things with the freshness, with the wonder of a child.”

What stood out most for you in Chapter One?

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.



Mariner Reading Schedule

The dates below are Mondays and we will read and discuss one chapter per week, Monday thru Friday.

Prelude: The Growth of a Poet’s Mind


04 The Kirk, the Hill, the Lighthouse Top
11 Jesus and the Dragoons
18 To Nether Stowey via Utopia
25 A Network of Friendships


02 A Visionary Landscape

Part II: The Mariner’s Tale

09 The Ship Was Cheered
16 Instead of the Cross, the Albatross
23 The Night-mare Life-in-Death
30 The Moving Moon


06 Nine Fathom Deep
13 The Two Voices
20 He Prayeth Best Who Loveth Best
27 Epilogue: The Morrow Morn



Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page. You can read more about him on this Interviews Page

He is the author of numerous books including

Parable and Paradox: Sonnets on the Sayings of Jesus and Other PoemsCanterbury Press 2016

Waiting on the Word; a poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Canterbury Press 2015

The Singing Bowl Canterbury Press 2013

Sounding the Seasons Canterbury Press 2012

Faith Hope and Poetry  Ashgate  2010 and 2012.

What Do Christians Believe?  Granta 2006

Photo courtesy of Lancia Smith.