June is called “midsummer,” even though it’s the beginning, not the middle, of the season.The days are long and warm, and many of us grab a book and head for the beach. This summer we are taking author Malcolm Guite along as he guides us through his terrific new book Mariner about the life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This week we are on Chapter Three titled “To Nether Stowey via Utopia.”
You can read Malcolm’s introduction and welcome letter to you by clicking on the book cover on this page.
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Coleridge wrote his famous poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1797 when he was only 25 years old. The poem is about the chance encounter of a young man who is late to a wedding and an old mariner he meets along the way. Even though he’s late, the mariner’s story is so compelling, he has no choice but to listen, and his life is changed by it.
Thirty years later, Coleridge had a chance encounter of his own with John Keats who he met on a walk. Keats was moved by the great, white-maned man, and wrote
In these two miles he broached a thousand things,” among them nightingales, dreams, mermaids, and sea monsters. I heard his voice as he came towards me—I heard it as he moved away—I heard it all the interval.
It reminds me of my favorite Bible story of another chance encounter on the road to Emmaus. Luke, the greatest storyteller in the Bible, wrote about two people who met a stranger whose stories changed their lives as well. This stranger explained the Bible in ways they had never heard before. Like the Ancient Mariner, it was compelling because it was told firsthand.
How many times have we sat spellbound at the feet of grandparents or others as they told us the stories of their lives? Here we have Jesus Himself explaining the Old Testament from a firsthand point of view! Eternal God, briefly confined by time, illuminating the eons by breaking bread.
Rick Wilcox, Editor in Chief
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
Literary Life offers the rich experience of exploring and discussing wonderful books with people from over 50 nations around the world – including the book’s author. We are seekers of truth at the intersection of the arts and faith through a discussion of ancient and contemporary literature. With Descartes, we celebrate that “the reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.”
“However little he may be fitted to teach others, he wishes to share his thoughts with those whom he feels congenial, but who are scattered far and wide in the world. By this means he wishes to reestablish his relation with his old friends, to continue it with new ones, and to gain in the younger generation still others for the remainder of his life. He wishes to spare youth the circuitous paths upon which he himself went astray, and while observing and utilizing the advantages of the present, to maintain the memory of his praiseworthy earlier efforts.
With this serious view, a small society has been brought together; may cheerfulness attend our undertakings, and time may show whither we are bound.”
~After Coleridge, after Goethe with a nod to Virgil and Dante