Nether Stowey

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A green and silent spot amid the hills,
A small and silent dell! O'er stiller place
No singing skylark ever poised himself.
The hills are heathy, save that swelling slope
Which hath a gay and gorgeous covering on,
All golden with the never-bloomless furze,
Which now blooms most profusely; but the dell,
Bathed by the mist, is fresh and delicate
As vernal cornfield, or the unripe flax,
When through its half-transparent stalks, at eve,
The level sunshine glimmers with green light.
O, 'tis a quiet, spirit-healing nook!
Which all, methinks, would love; but chiefly he,
The humble man, who in his youthful years
Knew just so much of folly as had made
His early manhood more securely wise!
Here he might lie on fern or withered heath,
While from the singing-lark (that sings unseen
The minstrelsy that solitude loves best),
And from the sun and from the breezy air,
Sweet influences trembled o'er his frame;
And he, with many feelings, many thoughts,
Made up a meditative joy, and found
Religious meanings in the forms of nature!
And so, his senses gradually wrapt
In a half-sleep, he dreams of better worlds,
And dreaming, hears thee still, O singing-lark,
That singest like an angel in the clouds!

But now the gentle dewfall sends abroad
The fruit-like perfume of the golden furze:
The light has left the summit of the hill,
Though still a sunny gleam lies beautiful,
Aslant the ivied beacon. Now farewell,
Farewell, awhile, O soft and silent spot!
On the green sheep-track, up the heathy hill,
Homeward I wind my way; and lo! recalled
From bodings that have well-nigh wearied me
I find myself upon the brow, and pause,
Startled! And after lonely sojourning
In such a quiet and surrounded nook,
This burst of prospect, here the shadowy main
Dim tinted, there the mighty majesty
Of that huge amphitheatre of rich
And elmy fields, seems like society,—
Conversing with the mind, and giving it
A livelier impulse and a dance of thought!
And now, beloved Stowey! I behold
Thy church-tower, and, methinks, the four huge elms
Clustering, which mark the mansion of my friend;
And, close behind them, hidden from my view,
Is my own lowly cottage, where my babe
And my babe's mother dwell in peace! With light
And quickened footsteps thitherward I tend,
Remembering thee, O green and silent dell!
And grateful that by nature's quietness
And solitaiy musings all my heart
Is softened, and made worthy to indulge
Love, and the thoughts that yearn for human-kind.

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in Nether Stowey from 1796 to 1799 with his wife and infant son. His great friend and fellow poet William Wordsworth lived nearby at Foxton.

It was in the cottage in Nether Stowey that Coleridge wrote his monumental poem, The Ancient Mariner. It was also in the cottage that the great poem, Kubla Khan came to him in a dream. Coleridge awoke and wrote down the poem without hesitation, from memory. Unfortunately he was interrupted by a man from Porlock, knocking at the door and his memory of the dream evaporated.

The cottage is now known as Coleridge Cottage and a few rooms survive from Coleridge's time.