A Network Of Friendships

Malcolm Guite

From Chapter Four

…our chief concern will be with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner itself, but before we look at the poem in detail in Part II of this book, we shall look at the factors that attended and enabled its birth. This includes the network of friendships that inspired and sustained the writing, the deep reading and confident poetic preparation in which Coleridge was engaging, and the renewal of the springs of his own imagination which was provided by his many walks following springs and rivers, both alone and with William and Dorothy Wordsworth, through the landscape around the Quantocks. Coleridge’s sense of renewal is expressed in the three great visionary poems which, as it were, framed and nurtured the composition of The Mariner: This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison written in July 1797, Kubla Khan in October 1797, and Frost at Midnight, written in the February of 1798.

Rick WilcoxChapter Four of Mariner brings us with Coleridge to the birthplace of the Romantic Movement. The year would be one of harvest as the seemingly random and often tortured preceding circumstances reached convergence in the poets’ hearts.  Here we witness great collaboration as timeless poetry is created in an environment conducive to, as Keats would later say, truth and beauty.

Malcolm Guite writes:

With Coleridge’s arrival in Nether Stowey, all the elements that allowed the writing of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner gradually fell into place. The year from the spring of 1797 through to the spring of 1798 was the annus mirabilis that brought to birth not only Coleridge’s greatest poetry, but also the beginning of Wordsworth’s greatest writing and the composition and the publication of their epoch-making joint work, The Lyrical Ballads. For all these reasons, this year can be seen as the birth of the Romantic Movement in English literature.

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Rick Wilcox

Editor in Chief | Literary Life