Richard Holmes

Richard Holmes

Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Bristol and Beyond

Coleridge Lectures/
Thu 12 March 2015

Richard Holmes

Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Bristol and Beyond

Richard Holmes
Thu 12 March 2015,

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The publication of the Lyrical Ballads in Bristol in 1798 launched the Romantic poetry movement. Richard Holmes, author of the great two-volume biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and also of The Age of Wonder, looks at the life and work of Coleridge in Bristol and the Quantock Hills at this critical moment. What originally inspired the writing of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, and what has this great and mysterious poem come to mean to us now? Holmes explores its varied interpretations, the revealing history of its illustrations, and its powerful emergence as a modern eco-fable. The poem speaks urgently to our own time about our duties towards the earth and the animals, and the spiritual – not merely physical – fate that may befall us should we fail in our stewardship, ‘alone on a wide wide sea’.

This lecture is part of a new annual series inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s radical lectures in Bristol in 1795. It is part of The Romantic Poets and Bristol programme, which celebrates the life of Thomas Chatterton, Hannah More, Willam Wordsworth, Coleridge and others in the city, and Bristol as the place where Romanticism was born with the first publication of the Lyrical Ballads. The programme focuses especially on nature and the emotions, place and the environment, and also looks at Bristol as a city for science, philosophy, ideas and political debate at the time of Coleridge and today. The 2015 theme is Radical Green. Future themes are: Utopias (2016); Revolution (2017) and Peace (2018).

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