Thursday, February 18, 2010

Samuel Taylor Coleridge


  1. Response to "Kubla Khan" (Hao Ling, parent of Calvin Ling)

    When I read this poem, it seemed to me that Coleridge would describe some sort of beautiful “pleasure dome”. However, as the poem progresses, it soon becomes clear that there are some sinister elements, when he talks about a “demon-lover” and “ceaseless turmoil seething”. The contrast made it difficult to truly enjoy the poem’s imagery, as it ends with a slightly negative tone warning of the dangers of the “pleasure dome”. However, Coleridge’s language is very eloquent. It flows well and makes for an easy to read piece. I find that I can agree with the broad message Coleridge is trying to convey. There are great dangers in taking something at face value instead of exploring its more ominous and hidden dangers within.

  2. "Dejection: An Ode"

    This poem is full of contrasts within nature, from the calm before the storm to the new moon and "the old Moon in her lap" (as the moon changes phase) to an anxious calm before the storm. For most of the poem, the speaker sits waiting for a storm to come while reflecting on the rarity of true joy in life. In the next to last stanza, when the storm finally hits, the lines become much more chaotic, both in word choice and in a sudden lack of uniformity of length. However, this sudden release of energy allows the final stanza to settle down again because the anxiety that build up at the storm's approach has been released. Coleridge points out that only after a life has been threatened to the point of reflecting on its own short existence can it really appreciate having joy.

  3. Kubla Khan

    One of the most noticeable ways in which "Kubla Khan" is Romantic is in the way that Coleridge places an emphasis upon the subtleties of nature, describing the "forests (as) ancient as the hills/ (which enfolded upon)sunny spots of greenery." This emphasis, which is quite pervasive throughout the poem, reveals the intricacies of nature (a theme which plays towards Romantic appreciation) and praises these intricacies. The poem goes about the description of Kubla Khan's "pleasure dome" (a castle of some sort?) in a very mystical way, forming very few coherent and understandable sentences. Also, this mystical tone gives the strange suggestion that the castle, while magnificent and beautiful in a natural way, is a place that should be feared. This undertone warns the reader of the castle, something very understandable when considering the viciousness and "ancestral voices (of) war" which the Khan family embodies.

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  5. "Kublah Khan"
    Leo Zornberg

    This poem is a perfect example for the cult of the "Noble Savage". Kublah Khan, who lives among a personified river, fed with honey dew and drinking milk of paradise, is the example of a savage but noble man. In fact, Wordsworth goes so far as to blatantly state that the place is "savage". However, the man seems to be noble because of his possession of the floating pleasure-dome, which is very much a disorderly piece of scenery. this is also aided by the fact that it is both sunny yet has icy caves: a seemingly impossible and chaotic air to it.

  6. John Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn
    Michael Lefkowitz (Rylie's Dad)

    This poem serves as a reminder of how short our time is on this earth. The imagery evoked enables the reader to reflect on the beautiful tragedy of life and all that goes along with it. The clock stops for no one.This poem remindes the reader of the beauty and sorrow of life, and how they are forever linked.

  7. Kubla Khan is a poem that incorporates both serene, beautiful images and more wild, savage elements. This juxtaposition seems to me to be extremely representative of the characteristics of a romantic poem, especially the savage part. There are also several references to nature and natural elements, like when he references forests (as) ancient as the hills/ (which enfolded upon)sunny spots of greenery. This presents a picture of serenity, but there are also savage and rough descriptions. This poem makes me sort of wistful, because it describes the wilderness with such beauty.

  8. Kubla Khan is a poem that incorporates both serene, beautiful images and more wild, savage elements. This juxtaposition seems to me to be extremely representative of the characteristics of a romantic poem, especially the savage part. There are also several references to nature and natural elements, like when he references forests (as) ancient as the hills/ (which enfolded upon)sunny spots of greenery. This presents a picture of serenity, but there are also savage and rough descriptions. This poem makes me sort of wistful, because it describes the wilderness with such beauty.

  9. Kubla Khan

    When I first started reading this poem, I didn’t really see the romantic content besides the words like "romantic chasm". But once I got to the third part of the poem, I noticed that it gave the same warm feeling that seems to be an essential part of romantic poems. This warm felling seemed to brake the spell of darkness and the demon-like qualities that seemed to overpower the poem in the first parts. This spell was broken with music, and delight, which filled Kubla Khan as he "drunk the milk of paradise". This scenery painted a picture in my mind, and I saw as the woman who bawled for her "demon-lover", and imagined the "...savage place! As holy and enchanted as e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted" complete with enchanted castle, craws, a dark night, and full moon.

  10. Kubla Khan by Kira

    Reading Kubla Khan is like experiencing some strange man's drug trip into dreamland. Which, well, the poem is. But Kubla Khan is not only a journey into Coleridge's dream realm--it is also a poem which is based on the core themes of Romanticism. For example, from the description of "the sacred river" to the "sunless sea," imagery of the natural world is woven throughout the piece. Contrasted with the natural elements which are usually made out to be serene and calming are the chaotic descriptions and form. In describing the "savage place," Coleridge uses many consecutive short sentences ending with exclamation marks as emphatic punctuation to convey the tone through words and format. However, while this structure is tumultuous, the overall poem adheres to a constant meter and rhyme scheme. This poem flawlessly balances the opposite ideas of peace and unrest into a Romantic style. I felt rather drained after reading this poem, because while all the descriptions are beautiful, it's almost as if I was adventuring at the poet's side.

  11. Kubla Khan

    When one thinks of Kubla Khan, they don't generally think of beuaty and complexity. Coleridge made me view the world of Kubla in a unique by using diction not generally associated with Kubla Khan. Khan himself was rough and simple, but Coleridge complex, strong diction such as, "sinous" and "athwart". This diction is a prime example of the views that romantics took on objects. Things that were once simple and plain are transformed into pieces of high art once the words of the romantics graces their thoughts.This poem is also shows evidence of the romantic touch, as it goes indepth to nature found in Kublas life. This poem made me feel enlightened, as it made me view Kubla Khan in a way I would have never been able to put into words like Coleridge did.

  12. Holly Fullerton (Katie's mother)

    The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)could be retitled "Always look on the bright side of life". Sold into a dangerous occupation as a child, he chooses to view this in a positive light. The Angel gives him reason to be good in this life to have laughter and freedom in the afterlife. This brings him present contentment. Today, we would rescue a child from that life...perhaps we have gone too far and robbed ourselves of the lessons hardship has to teach.

  13. Kubla Khan:

    The noble savage aspect of Kublai Khan notwithstanding, this poem does not at first appear to have many romantic aspects. The poem begins by describing Kubla Khan's intentions to have his private palace constructed on the banks of the holy river Alph, how "twice five miles of fertile ground/ With walls and towers were girdled round:" or walled in at the Khan's orders. As romanticism focused on the spontaneity and primitive qualities of nature, Kubla Khan's attempts to bring order to this area seems contrary to the subject matter usually encompassed in romantic poems. It is as the poem progresses, and Coleridge begins to reference "savage place[s]" and the tumbling course of a river that the true romantic nature of the poem begins to peek through. The image of a river crashing through the countryside, uncontrollable and unstoppable, most definitely pays homage to the "untamed and disorderly" parts of nature. Even Kubla Khan as a subject fits the rubric for a romantic poem, as the shamanistic practices of the Mongols epitomize natural religions. The imagery of Kubla Khan descrying the future from the whispering tumult of a distant sea hearkens back to ancient prophets and priestesses listening to the voice of Mother Earth, and puzzling out the fates of myriad men. To further emphasize the romantic nature of this poem, the river is given breath, panting as it pauses upon its swift, crashing journey into a "lifeless ocean."

  14. The opening two lines of this poem, "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree," bring to my mind one thing: the castle of Charles Foster Kane in Orson Welles' 1941 film Citizen Kane, the epitome of wealth and splendor which have (Coleridge would say hath) grown to such an outrageous level that the king is driven to madness. If there was ever an example of the exultation of the individual and his needs, a Romantic hallmark, Kane (at least publicly; this is not an analysis of that film, so I will leave be) would be it; Coleridge’s narration, and the idea that these are things that he saw which he is so graciously sharing with the reader, help to support this ideal in his poem. The lines, “the sacred river, ran/Through caverns measureless to man/Down to a sunless sea” remind me strongly of the basement of Kane’s pleasure palace, a great chamber filled with an unholy amount of treasure collected from all over the world. Here, Coleridge describes a land where one can find all the earthly pleasures imaginable (“gardens bright with sinuous rills/Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;” “a miracle of rare device/A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice”), but beneath the surface there lurks something dark and terrible, the “deep romantic chasm”. Coleridge makes good use of Romantic concepts here, idolizing nature and its “sacred” forms (the river, etc.) and the spontaneity of music and its influence, in the form of the “damsel with a dulcimer” which would bring Coleridge to construct all that he here recollects. Also, there is extensive use of personification of nature, in terms such as “dancing rocks” and “the earth in thick pants,” used to impartthe view of nature embraced by the Romantic poets. Closing out the poem, he once again references nature with the “milk of Paradise,” a natural substance (part of an animal) being the gateway to heaven. These visions of hedonism were not lost on Welles, who showcased Kane’s eccentricities and personal chasms within his own “stately pleasure dome”.

  15. Dejection: An Ode

    In this poem, the speaker attempts to lift himself out of his dejection by admiring nature, but instead finds nature to be a mirror for his dejected soul with its "month of showers" and "dark-brown gardens." He uses symbols in nature to represent his former happiness, likening his hope to a twining vine. But then he describes the beauty of nature and admits he can only see it anymore, not feel it. It as if he has fallen out of romanticism, no longer able to find happiness in nature's beauty. However, he has not actually abandoned his romanticism. He still uses objects in nature to symbolize his feelings, it's just that now his thoughts are coiling vipers. The fact that he is able to dwell on his gloomy thoughts at such length shows that he still able to value the individual in all his states, listless as well as rejoicing. This author's inspiration may come in a drearier shade, but it is imaginative inspiration nonetheless.

  16. In Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess", the author's focus on expressing the personal feelings of the Duke and the natural tendency for people to have sex marks the poem as Romantic. The Duke clearly, almost lustfully describes the Duchess's "pictured countenance... the depth and passion of its earnest glance" as well as her "rosy spot of joy". This act of putting the Duchess up on a pedestal shows a shift away from a strictly religious desire for women and towards a more raw, natural desire. The Duke immediately moves on to point out the Duchess's sin, "[thanking] men", or in his implied words, having extramarital sex. Ironically, as if Browning wanted to point out something about humans, the Duke notices the Count's "fair daughter". Browning makes use of enjambment and rhyming for two consecutive lines (aa, bb, etc), but the enjambment leads to thoughts or sentences ending in the middle of lines, even if the rhyming is consistent. This creates a feeling that the poem is flowing, rather than a stop-start feeling that accompanies commas and periods at the end of every line. Emotionally, this poem appeals to me because even though the Duchess dies, the Duke simply moves on to other pieces of art, and that subtle objectification made me grin in a ridiculous, "did he really just say that" manner.

  17. Kubla Khan
    Coleridge hides the inerrant aggression of man amidst his descriptions of the surrounding plains. Though the savagery of war is mentioned briefly, the poem lingers on the imagery of nature, and how it can itself be savage. Just as man is deceitful, nature reveals these "pleasure domes" and then the mirage becomes a dark chasm. The poem itself manages to flow smoothly, with a thought out rhyme scheme, and still maintain its subtleties. Colerige's ability to use vivid imagery and a rhyme scheme are one of the high points of the poem.

  18. Kubla Khan:

    According to some research, Coleridge claims that this poem was written based upon a dream he had while on opium. Because of this, the validity in any deeper analysis is questionable, though it does reflect the societal/cultural ongoings of the time. (Writers (and others) checkin' out opium.) What makes this poem romantic though, rather than just some weird product of a drug induced stupor, is its natural imagery and possible sexual undertones. Those undertones are created by certain frases used such as (but not limited to) "deep romantic chasm" and "woman wailing for her demon-lover." Because of such clearly explicit-sounding terminology and the circumstances under which it was written, it's nearly impossible to deny the idea that this poem is essentially a high man's sexual fantasy (or experience) verses a poem with a message. (In a good way, though.)

  19. Kubla Khan:

    Coleridge, in Kubla Khan, demonstrates a clear emphasis on nature and thus creates a romantic sense of the poem. He vividly paints the reader picture of nature by articulating a "sunless sea" and "sacred river" but also does this in a peculiar and metaphorical fashion (e.g. "pleasure dome"). While he uses such subtle, yet prominent metaphors to create a romantic mood, he also creates a literal mood of cruelty. One where the reader is also to be scared of the "savage place... [that is] haunted." Thus, Coleridge successfully achieves two different tones--one in which the reader is to see the dome as a "paradise," and another where it is a place of "demon-lovers."

    -Akshay Jotwani

  20. Kubla Khan (Susan McLeland, parent of Georgia):

    As a film scholar, I find this poem has special significance, since it's quoted in Citizen Kane when Kane starts building Xanadu, his monstrous "pleasure palace" in Florida, based on the real William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon in California. In the movie, Kane takes a croud on a camping trip on the grounds of Xanadu, and sharp-eyed viewers will note that the background footage of Xanadu's wilderness includes pterodactyls flying though the sky, a hallucinogenic effect produced by RKO's cost-cutting efforts to re-purpose B-roll from another film rather than shooting new footage for this short sequence. The famous "goof" seems only fitting in tribute to Coleridge's hipnotic verse.

    Romantic elements of the poem include its fantastic (Orientalist) imagining
    of Kubla Khan, his “pleasure dome” and the spectacular setting in a forested
    canyon. Unlike the gentler wildness of the English countryside in a
    Wordsworth poem, Coleridge’s landscape is dangerous and untamed, fantastic
    and dramatic. Specific images and descriptions trigger the senses, from
    “gardens bright with sinuous rills” with “incense-bearing tree(s)” to “woman
    wailing for her demon-lover” and feasts of “honey-dew” and “the milk of
    Paradise.” Rhythmic language and repetition of phrases like “canyons
    measureless to man” further reinforce its dreamy state. Xanadu is larger
    than life, which makes it unsustainable for both Coleridge and Kane.

  21. “Dejection: An Ode” is clearly a Romantic poem because of its focus on nature. Not only does the poem revolve around nature, but it also personifies it and claims that it is the source of human emotions and actions. The poem goes to great lengths to describe specific features of nature, such as the anguished screams of the wind. Coleridge also states that “spirit and power” and “Imagination” come from nature. As “Dejection: An Ode” described nature, it also mimicked nature’s disorder and abruptness. Coleridge’s diction and syntax left me feeling sympathetic for the author’s pain and sorrow while also giving me my own sense of despair.