An ancient Mariner meeteth three gallants bidden to a wedding feast, and detaineth one.Samuel Taylor Coleridge was only twenty-five when he wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but it turned out to be an astonishingly prescient poem. This tale of a journey that begins in high hopes and good spirits, leads to a profound encounter with darkness, alienation, loneliness and dread, and finally sees its protagonist return home to a renewal of faith and vocation, foreshadowed the shape of Coleridge's own life. Summoning us to join him on a fantastic voyage through Coleridge's life and work, academic, priest and poet Malcolm Guite draws out the uncanny clarity with which image after image and event after event in the poem became emblems of what Coleridge was later to suffer and discover. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is of course more than just one individual's story: it is also a profound exploration of the human condition and, as Coleridge himself explained, our 'loneliness and fixedness' - a prophetic parable about our place in a natural world that scares us in its immensity yet which we assume we can control. But the poem ultimately offers hope, release and recovery; and Guite also draws out the continuing relevance of Coleridge's life and writing to our own age.
Malcolm Guite, a poet, theologian, and song-writer, is the Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge where he also teaches for the Divinity Faculty. He lectures widely in England and North America on theology and literature. He has published poetry, theology, and literary criticism, and worked as a librettist. He is married with two children. Living in Cambridge allows him to indulge his passions for old books, old pubs and live music. He also enjoys sailing, walking, and all the varieties of the English countryside and weather.