Photos & Poetry

Originally posted on our Facebook site, these are pictures taken in Ottery St Mary, the birthplace of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and are linked to his writing to celebrate that enduring connection.

‘The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!’
‘…those caves of ice!’
Coleridge did travel far beyond Ottery, as we well know, and will have seen his fair share of icy environs, so this close-up of an ice- sheet in a pool of frozen water contained in a dip in the field beside the Millennium Bridge yesterday is just one local prompt to the imagination…











‘Over what place does the Moon hang to your eye, my dearest Sara?’
Radiant above Ottery last night…










Sunrise over Ottery St Mary, and a little poetic licence from STC
‘Into the mighty vision passing—there
As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven!’









A frosty morning in Ottery:
‘The frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind.’









With acknowledgement to Malcolm Guite who yesterday tweeted this apt quote from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ [still the sun over Ottery]:
All in a hot and
copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.









There is much written about the influences on and alterations made to Coleridge’s poem ‘Hymn before Sun-rise…’, but for us an extract goes well as illumination with this morning’s sunrise over Ottery St Mary before it became a small orange dot behind the Sahara dust blown across the country by the remains of Hurricane Ophelia, a visual phenomenon STC would no doubt have also appropriated for poetic exploration,
‘Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale!
O struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink:
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself Earth’s rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise! ‘














‘Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy…[river!] ‘







‘Sonnet: To the River Otter
Dear native brook! wild streamlet of the West!
How many various-fated years have passed,
What happy and what mournful hours, since last
I skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
Numbering its light leaps! Yet so deep impressed
Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes
I never shut amid the sunny ray,
But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,
Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey,
And bedded sand that, veined with various dyes,
Gleamed through thy bright transparence! On my way,
Visions of childhood! oft have ye beguiled
Lone manhood’s cares, yet waking fondest sighs:
Ah! that once more I were a careless child! ‘
Picture of a sunny ray reflectively pooled in the River Otter yesterday.
















The opening stanza to ‘Youth and Age’:
‘Verse, a breeze mid blossoms straying,
Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee—
Both were mine! Life went a-maying
With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,
When I was young! ‘
It makes an apt link to this April photograph of the flowering cherry blossom and King’s School, Ottery St Mary, where the Reverend John Coleridge was the Headmaster and his son Samuel attended briefly as a young boy.
And is that an albatross on top of the bell tower….?












Sunflower and salvias:
It is the same blue sweep of sky in Ottery St Mary this morning and probably for the rest of the day – even weekend!
From ‘Youth and Age’, aphoristic poetry in support of this wonderful picture of St Mary’s church, Ottery, with similar sky, taken by Phyllis:
‘Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like’











A few moments ago, a rainbow over Ottery St Mary [just beyond that roof!], not all-red, and Coleridge will have seen one here too, though in this from a letter to Sara Hutchinson in 1802 it is another:
‘…with one foot on Walla Crag, and the other foot exactly upon Calvert’s House at Windy Bow was one great Rainbow, red and all red, entirely formed by the Clouds – I have now seen all the Rain-bows, that, I suppose, are possible – the Solar Rainbow, with its many colours, the great lunar Rainbow, & a fiery red Rainbow, wholly from the Clouds after sunset!’