Sunday, January 12, 2020

Coleridge Cottage


We really enjoy visiting National Trust sites when touring Great Britain.  The homes of authors especially intrigue me.  Today I want to take you to the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Somerset, England.  As I recorded in my travel journal,  the wind and rain pouring down on our drive to Nether Stowey offered a dismal look at the landscape. 






In 1797 Coleridge lived here, though his home was not this handsome at the time.  It is said "why would a young man of 24 move his family into a mouse infested freezing hovel."



Though he only lived here for three short years, Coleridge was his most productive while here.  Wordsworth lived here briefly and together they began, Lyrical Ballards, a selection of poetry that is said to begin the Romantic Literary movement.  The nature of the countryside inspired Coleridge to write many poems that are still loved today.  So come along inside with us as we see where Coleridge and his family lived.


When we enter the home we are met by a lovely woman named, Margot.  She enthusiastically tells us about Coleridge and his life in the cottage.  She is amazed that an American would even know about him.  For this, Grayden and I both were surprised as we told her we learned of him in high school and college and know that our grandchildren have studied about him as well.  She was happy to hear that.


The fire in the fireplace felt so good that cold October morning as we remember the little cold family that lived here so long ago.


Frost at Midnight


The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                      But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

         Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the interspers├ęd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

         Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night-thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.
Coleridge's poem was written in this room as he watched the frost creep on his windowpane as his baby was sleeping nearby.





The Cottage was built in the 17th century as two attached buildings with a parlor, kitchen and service room on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs and an adjoining barn.





Coleridge was born in Devon on October 21, 1772.  He attended Jesus College, Cambridge.  During childhood he suffered with rheumatic fever and had ill health since.  He was treated with laudanum.  Some say this introduced his opium addiction.  


Coleridge had four children with his wife Sara.  Berkeley, Derwent, Sara and Hartley Coleridge.  


After looking throughout the small cottage we went out back into the lovely garden.







The garden was so pretty this October afternoon.  It was so nice the rain lifted and allowed us to enjoy the exterior of the cottage. 


Across the street we had lunch at The Ancient Mariner Pub.  



It was here in his cottage in Nether Stowey that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", "Kubla Khan", "Frost at Midnight", "Christabel", "This Lime Tree Bower, My Prison".   Thanks to the National Trust, we were able to get a feel of where he and his family lived and worked.

Thank you for stopping by, my friends.  I will soon be taking a couple months off from blogging.  I'm looking forward to checking in with you then.  Thank you so much for visiting!