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  1. #11
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    It's totally plausible, though, if you know more about STC than "romantic poet." He was more of a philosopher and theorist than a poet. I don't find it at all hard to believe that his dream led to thoughts about the goals and genesis of different types of poetry.
    The reason I'm looking at it this way is that Coleridge didn't think anything, he dreamed the poem and then started writing down the words he remembered from the dream verbatim.

    Stephen R. Donaldson reported having a similar experience in which he dreamed that he was writing an entire chapter to his latest novel, so when he woke up he had nothing more to do than transcribe the words from the dream.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    As for why they can't just keep it simple- the Romantic poets didn't keep it simple. They were all about layers of meaning and the most esoteric philosophy they could muster up.
    Yes, that's easy to see. It's just not a meta-poem, that is, a poetry about different types of poems. The very idea that Coleridge had a meta-poetry dream is a real knee-slapper to me.
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  3. #13
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Ok, here is Coleridge's own commentary on what happened. I think you could interpret this various ways (ie. he actually composed lines in the dream, or he wrote lines down based on images he remembered from the dream - not quite the same thing.) And some have thought the whole story might be a fabrication...


    In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in 'Purchas's Pilgrimage:' 'Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto: and thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.' The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his now small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter:

    Then all the charm
    Is broken--all that phantom-world so fair
    Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,
    And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile,
    Poor youth! who scarcely dar'st lift up thine eyes--
    The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon
    The visions will return! And lo! he stays,
    And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms
    Come trembling back, unite, and now once more
    The pool becomes a mirror.

    Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had been originally, as it were, given to him. but the to-morrow is yet to come. As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and disease.
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  4. #14
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I've never felt that the poem is necessarily incomplete in itself. I know about the person from Porlock and so on, but if I have understood correctly, Coleridge had a dream, but it wasn't like he composed the poem IN THE DREAM. He woke up, started writing a poem about the dream, and then the interruption happened and he realised he'd forgotten the rest of the dream. So he wrote and completely the poem based on what he remembered.

    I'm not sure if it is known for certain how all this played out. Coleridge didn't just write very long epic poems like the Ancient Mariner, though. I think Frost at Midnight, another of his great poems, is of a similar length to Kubla Khan.

    Incidentally, it is more than likely that the guy with flashing eyes and floating hair in the final section is Coleridge himself. He'd been taking opium, so he'd on honeydew fed and drunk the milk of paradise.
    That's interesting and plausible that Coleridge injected himself into a subconscious dream symbol. In fact, I think that's actually correct. No wonder he, I mean the warlock, won the girl.
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  5. #15
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Ok, here is Coleridge's own commentary on what happened. I think you could interpret this various ways (ie. he actually composed lines in the dream, or he wrote lines down based on images he remembered from the dream - not quite the same thing.) And some have thought the whole story might be a fabrication...


    In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in 'Purchas's Pilgrimage:' 'Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto: and thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.' The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his now small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter:

    Then all the charm
    Is broken--all that phantom-world so fair
    Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,
    And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile,
    Poor youth! who scarcely dar'st lift up thine eyes--
    The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon
    The visions will return! And lo! he stays,
    And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms
    Come trembling back, unite, and now once more
    The pool becomes a mirror.

    Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had been originally, as it were, given to him. but the to-morrow is yet to come. As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and disease.
    I believe that's straight out of the Wiki article I just read. Psychology has a name for the bolded phenomenon, but I forgot what it is called. Something like a "heaven" something-or-other, not intended as literally from heaven. Not "divine inspiration."
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  6. #16
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I've never felt that the poem is necessarily incomplete in itself. I know about the person from Porlock and so on, but if I have understood correctly, Coleridge had a dream, but it wasn't like he composed the poem IN THE DREAM. He woke up, started writing a poem about the dream, and then the interruption happened and he realised he'd forgotten the rest of the dream. So he wrote and completely the poem based on what he remembered.

    I'm not sure if it is known for certain how all this played out.
    If there was more to the dream then, since Coleridge intended to finish the poem, it's now incomplete, a fragment of what would have gone on for something like 200-300 lines. A critic of the time even lambasted Coleridge for writing something so trivial and incomplete: "The fault of Mr Coleridge is, that he comes to no conclusion ... from an excess of capacity, he does little or nothing." What a pity.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  7. #17
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Why are you assuming that he dreamed the words verbatim?

  8. #18
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Why are you assuming that he dreamed the words verbatim?
    He dreamed the words as a dream narrative while seeing the images at the same time.

    I used to have so many of those when I was young, but not from drugs.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  9. #19
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    I don't think that has been established. He wrote that account almost twenty years after the fact, and even the account doesn't really say outright that's what happened. It's never how I've interpreted his account, anyway.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    I don't think that has been established. He wrote that account almost twenty years after the fact, and even the account doesn't really say outright that's what happened. It's never how I've interpreted his account, anyway.
    Well I can tell you that such dreams are far more entertaining than movies and television. And I have also written a sci-fi book in a dream, plotted out the entire thing while dream-writing. But I think I woke up before finishing it.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

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