The Music

The Foster-Mother's Tale

This was the very first of S.T.C’s poems that I read; a fragment from a play he wrote called “Osorio”. I immediately fell in love with the story and the clarity so I re-worked the original story and words into a folk song. The tale of a baby found in the woods, his imprisonment, his escape, and his ultimate decline to savagery.

My Captain

S.T.C. always seemed to approach his new ventures with boundless excitement, a sense of optimism and an idealistic view of how simple and easy they would be… all his ventures started with light hearted hope, and many of them ended up not being quite as easy as he’d envisioned.

If the Ancient Mariner is an autobiographical portrait of S.T.C. then I thought it was important to shine a brighter light on those first few lines of cheering and merriment that the voyage starts with.

The Curse of a Dead Man's Eye

I could have written an entire album based on just the Ancient Mariner… but this was the single verse that I felt most drawn to, the dark drone of those horrific nights at sea. The gruesome imagery of being reduced to the desperation of drinking your own blood to quench your thirst enough just to cry out loud is the stuff of nightmares and folk songs. I’ve written my own lyrics around a number of S.T.C’s own words.

William Frend

Whilst S.T.C. was an undergraduate at Cambridge one of the tutors at the college, William Frend, was put on trial for publishing a leaflet speaking out against the liturgy of the Church. There’s a beautiful story that during that trial S.T.C. applauded raucously from the balcony to deliberately enrage the judge before quickly switching places with a one armed man.

Friends of Three

S.T.C’s relationship with William and Dorothy Wordsworth whilst living in Nether Stowey was a huge part of his life. They would walk the Quantock hills, and around Exmoor, together, talking and dreaming. I got the strong sense that there were moments during these years where S.T.C. was close to happiness. 

Epitah On An Infant

A poem set to music. There were a few versions of this that I found, a lot without the second verse… but I liked this one the most. As far as I could tell it was not written for any specific loss that S.T.C. suffered. It’s a beautiful epitaph full of hope, but I felt a very real pain of his through the words.

George

George was S.T.C’s elder brother, and one who was often leant upon. Coleridge was, undoubtedly, a friend that often placed a heavy burden on those around him. Much of the sentiment of this song is based on the letter “To the Rev. George Coleridge”.

Kubla Kahn

I knew I wanted to do something with the poem… but when I read it I couldn’t get past wondering what the song of the damsel with the hammered dulcimer sounded like. In my mind, it sounded like this.

Pantisocracy

Pantisocracy is “equal or level government for all”. The notion was that Southey, Lovell and S.T.C. would move to the banks of the Susquehanna to start a new and better life. Pantisocracy was the reason S.T.C. married Sara Fricker and like many of S.T.C’s schemes it was full of hope and optimism… but the practicalities meant that Robert Southey and S.T.C. ended up unable to even agree whether they should settle by the waters in America or Wales! Pantisocracy collapsed and S.T.C. was left with a wife he married for all the wrong reasons.

Might Is In The Mind

Coleridge was a celebrity of his time, and I found the anecdote that formed this song in a book called “Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge”. This was one of those fragments of his dinner table conversation. Something that I imagine had audience absolutely enraptured. Coleridge attributed the origins of this story to the American painter Washington Allston.

Mother You Will Rue Me

When he was 7 years old S.T.C. ran away from home after an argument with his older brother Frank, an event that resonated strongly with me. This was an event that clearly made an impression on the young S.T.C. as he spoke and wrote of it many years later. In later years he was particularly focused on his mothers feelings during the event.

Esteesee

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John" (or the "Black Paternoster") is a childhood prayer that is catalogued as Roud Folk Song 1704.

In a letter to Thomas Poole in 1797 S.T.C. wrote: “this prayer I said nightly, and most firmly believed the truth of it. Frequently have I (half-awake and half-asleep, my body diseased and fevered by my imagination), seen armies of ugly things bursting in upon me, and these four angels keeping them off.”

Along the Coleridge Way

The Coleridge Way is a 51-mile footpath from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth. It passes through the village where I live, and past the church where I was married. It’s well signed walking route and it was the path that led me to discover S.T.C.

Elegy For Coleridge

S.T.C. wrote his own epitaph and I’ve reworked it as an elegy, because how could I end this project with anything else?

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