STC: Initials as Structure





‘The Pixies’ Parlour still exists on a low, sandstone ridge, now some fifty yards from the eastern bank of the River Otter. In 1986 I crawled in and was astonished to discover the initials STC carved at the very back of the cave. It took me a moment to realise that the sandstone walls are so porous and flaky that these could not possibly be Coleridge’s original graffiti, but some later act of piety. Such carvings and re-carvings of his initials, ceremoniously repeated by generation after generation of unknown memorialists, suddenly seemed to me like a symbol of the essentially cumulative process of biography itself.’

                                                                                          Richard Holmes


S & library all in

Terwoven with arbitrary arti

Culated initials a


Symbolical language for deep melancholy consuming ini

Tials at once opposite and

Correspondent within me: beauteous


Spectra of

Two initials orange and violet

Circumstances when peculiar initial differences another’s


Shadow’s object false-colours its de

Tached initials his innumerable



Transplanted the mere

Carcase of: an electrical multiplicity of rays and far-


Stretched ini

Tials as a

Co-exisiting echo you had not


Suspected I am so swallowed up in a

Thousand thousand palimpsest initials of fantasti

C analogue & initial


Similitude: Giant Pyramid ini

Tials Gothi

C Alps and Andes of a world destroyed in a gusty inter


Spersed wilderness howling with emp

Tied gnawing initials leagued in

Conspiracy against me: half-embodying initial


S half images within but harmonious phan

Tom initials fits hints & flashes of refle

Cted light & vast initial


S of

Terra In

Cognita known & anticipated only as an Under-


Song by sub

Tler suppressed initials unified by natural

Contingency: kalligraphic ritual trial initials him


Self as a labyrinth of sweet initials with hillsides I begin to

Think that nothing on earth but it

Could have


Saved me mis

Taking perishable initials for distant

Conceptions where Intuition


S alone are adequate: the neu

Tral product when the I of the

Contra-distinguished initial may exist no longer for it


Self but in the omnipresence of all in each initial & since

Then every error I have

Committed othered when initialled part fugitive part exi



Tent only in

Conversation no unapt initial of


Self-experience as a pool with surface in

Tial without wrinkle the quicksilver initials of metaphysics

Compared in calm weather to


Subtle hieroglyphical ini

Tials blue as smoke at one edge or rainbow initials on fast-sailing

Clouds the

Sensation of shattered fragments of penitent initials put inwardly

Together an immense heap supplying the whole sense wanted: a tra

Ckless unknown initial the last of my being a


Somewhat fitter Ins

Trument than unmeaning blank fuga

Cious initials without material re


Siduum the vivid odorous clusters of initials a sort of music I

Tremble to think what

Cruelly initial recollections the words but initials of air.


                                                                Alan Halsey



(Reprinted by kind permission of the author. First published by Stride Magazine in 2001. Alan Halsey ran the Poetry Bookshop in Hay on Wye from 1979 to 1996 and now lives in Sheffield. He is a leading British ‘innovatory’ poet in whose work the techniques of verbal collage and improvisation combine with a strong sense of place and their overlapping tribes. His The Text of Shelley’s Death (1995) is a reworking of the contemporary accounts of that event. He also has a strong interest in Thomas Lovell Beddoes and spoke on David Jones’ ‘Ancient Mariner’ at the Kilve Study Weekend in 1995.)