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The Gutch Book

Welcome to the Fly Catcher - Watchet - The Gutch Book

S T Coleridge himself used to refer to his journals as Fly Catchers, as he wanted to catch ideas down before they flittered away. This project was tasked with digitally geolocating pages from Coleridge's own early journals back into the Somerset landscape which inspired him.

Enclosed are four pages from the infamous Gutch Book, one of Coleridge's earliest and penned during his time whilst he lived at Nether Stowey.

I would like to thank both Mrs Cassam who is the current copyright holder of Coleridge's works and The British Library who have permitted me to use these images for this site specific project.

C Jelley
Stand in front of Halsway Manors front door facing the garden for the first chapter to reveal.
Chapter one

The Fly Catchers

This journal extract geolocated in Watchet can be a little difficult to decipher, but it is a good example of the diversity and flexibility of notes within Coleridge's journals. Written during the time when he lived in Nether Stowey it contains in infamous nugget which describes him whisking his son outside in tears, the boy see the moon and is transfixed, ceasing his crying.

These journal extracts are from the manuscript often referred to as The Gutch Book MS27901 and are just four pages from the whole.
Chapter two

Other Fly Catchers

There are two other Fly Catcher journals which I have installed around West Somerset, but all three have be relocated here at Halsway Manor.

Nether Stowey - Geolocated on the mound of Nether Stowey Castle you will be able to read, penned in Coleridge's hand, a poem authored by William Wordsworth. The poem is dedicated to Coleridge's son Hartley who was six years old at the time.

Porlock Weir - Kubla Khan, the most famous of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's works, and geo-located on the atmospheric harbour.
Turn right and walk in a clockwise manor around the grounds, the next chapter should reveal as you walk toward the little thatch building.
Chapter three

The swallows interweaving their
mid the paired sea-mews
at distance widely-wailing!

The brook runs over
sea-weeds -

Sabbath day - from the
Miller's mossy wheel
the water drops dripped
leisurely -
Walk in front of the little thatched building.
Chapter four

on the broad

The neighing wild-colt raced with
the wind

O'er fern &heath flowers-
a long deep lane.

So overshadow'd, it might seem one
The damp clay banks were furred
with mouldy moss

Broad breasted Pollards, with
broad-branching head.
Continue along the path with the garden to your left.
Chapter five

And one or two more melancholy
Pass by on flimsy wing in hopes'
cold gleam,
Moths in the Moonlight.-

'Twas sweet to know it only possible-
Some wishes cross'd my mind & dimly cheer'd it-
And one or two poor melancholy Pleasures
In these, the (cold) pale unwarming (gleams) light of Hope
Silvering their flimsy wing, flew silently by,
Moths in the Moonlight
Walk down the steps.
Chapter six

-the prophetic soul
of the wider world dreaming on things to
Shak. Sonnets
Most true it is that I have looked on truth
askance and strangely. Id.

Behind the thin
grey cloud that cover'd but not hid the sky
The round full moon look'd small. -
The subtle snow in every breeze
rose curling from the Grove, like
pillars of cottage smoke.
Walk along the bottom of the garden.
Chapter seven

The alligators terrible roar, like
heavy distant thunder, not only
shaking the air and waters, but
causing the earth to tremble &
when hundreds & thousands are
roaring at the same time, you
can scarcely be persuaded but
that the whole globe is
dangerously agitated ---

Continue along.
Chapter eight

The eggs are layed in layers
between a compost of earth,
mud, grass, & herbage. - The
female watches them - when
born, she leads them
about the shores, as a hen
her chicken -- and when she
is basking in the warm banks, with
her brood around, you may
Continue along.
Chapter nine

hear the young one whining &barking, like young puppies.

20 feet long - Lizard-shaped,
plated - head vulnerable
tusked -eyes small & sunk-
Continue along.
Chapter ten

Hartley fell down & hurt
himself - I caught him up
crying & screaming - & ran out
of doors with him. - The Moon
caught his eye - he ceased
crying immediately - & his eyes
& the tears in them. how they
glittered in the Moonlight!

-Some wilderness-plot, green
& fountains & unviolated
by man.
Chapter eleven

Thank you for walking this Fly Catcher.

There are three Fly Catchers in all.

Nether Stowey, Porlock Weir and Watchet, all set in locations we have good evidence that Coleridge walked.

Visit the Coleridge Way Blog to discover other artistic projects funded by ARTlife, which have been inspired by the great Romantic Poet.


Fly Catcher project and all rights reserved Christopher Jelley http://storywalks.info

Images are copyright of The British Library and are used here with written consent.

Words are copyright of Ms P Cassam who has also given written consent for this project.

Funded by ARTlife
Chapter twelve