Ernest Hartley Coleridge: Proto-Proclaimer

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By Jo Taylor I won’t lie to you: there is a reason why Ernest Hartley Coleridge is not as famous a poet as his grandfather, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ernest is mostly remembered for editing STC’s works, from the earliest publication of selections from the notebooks in Anima Poetae (1896), through a detailed reprint of Christabel (1908) and on to the Complete Poetry in 1912. He published one volume of his own poetry in 1898, and it’s not a collection that really deserves poetic fame.


In the poem below, Ernest describes to his lover how far he would go for her. He’s walk 50 miles. Later, he says he’ll walk 250.

Then, skip forward 80 years, and we find the Proclaimers walking 500 miles:

And now, for all your Victorian-geeky-pleasure for the week, sing Ernest’s poem along with The Proclaimers tune. (If anyone uploads a video of themselves doing just that, I will think of some sort of prize. Probably sweet-related.) The 1st and last stanzas work especially well:

Love in Absence

If I could travel fifty miles,
Then cross a stream and mount a hill,
(I’ve done it mad for joy erewhiles),
I know that I would find her still.

She’s sitting in the window seat,
Her face is resting on …read more