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review 2014-12-14 12:19
Beware the Age of Reason
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge,Gustave Doré

Whenever I come to this poem the first thing that comes to mind is the song by Iron Maiden (unfortunately I don't think they did a video clip – which would have been awesome in its own right).


Iron Maiden



I am really tempted to spend the rest of this review talking about how as a teenager I loved Iron Maiden, and about how they were unfairly persecuted by the church because they released one song called 'Number of the Beast' (with an album of the same name), where in reality they just wrote some really cool songs with some really cool music. Okay, this particular song is based heavily on the poem, and probably would be more akin to a ballad as opposed to a song, but I am getting ahead of myself here because I probably shouldn't be talking about Iron Maiden. Still, I should at least display the cover for the single:


Iron Maiden - Rime of the Ancient Mariner



As I was looking through Google Images for this particular poster I noticed that a lot of the artwork relating to this particular poem was very dark, and in some cases bordering on the horrific. Take for instance this poster:


Rime of the Ancient Mariner


There is a very heavy spiritual element to it, but then again the poem itself has some very strong spiritual connotations, with ghost ships, curses, and of course the mariner being forced to live and watch all of his crew die of thirst one by one. In fact, a classic line 'water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink' comes from this poem (and not, as originally thought, from the Iron Maiden song).

I'm sure we all know the story about how a group of sailors travel to the south pole and get stuck in the ice and then along comes an albatross who leads them out of the ice only to have one of the sailors shoot it with a crossbow (to the horror of the rest of the crew considering the Albatross is a good omen to sailors, and killing one brings lots of bad luck). Sure enough, the ship become becalmed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and one by one the crew drop dead until the silly sailor is the only one left alive. However, he ends up getting rescued (after a rain storm passes over to resupply his water) and then returns to England where he grabs some unsuspecting person at a wedding and proceeds to retell his story.

What I think is happening in this poem is that it is a reaction against the 'Age of Reason'. This was a period in Europe where philosophy was shifting from the sacred to the secular. Basically unless something could be proven empirically it is of no worth and of no interest. It was in effect the beginning of the end of the church, and of superstition (though as far as I am concerned the church is still alive and well today). The whole thing about the albatross is that it was superstition, and by shooting it with a crossbow the sailor is in effect thumbing his nose at superstition. As far as he is concerned, the age of superstition has passed and the age of reason has begun.

Coleridge, I suspect, is saying 'no it hasn't'. I don't necessarily think he is suggesting that we avoid black cats and look for four leaf clovers, but he is saying that despite the rise of the scientific method, we simply cannot discard the sacred, because not only is the sacred important to our past and gives us an identity, it also puts limits on morality. In effect, from what I gained from reading this poem, is that we dispense with the sacred code at our peril.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1131366014
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text 2014-09-27 23:11
Bookaday UK - 26 and 27
Revolting Rhymes - Quentin Blake,Roald Dahl
Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts - Alan Cumming,Roald Dahl
Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Kerrigan in Copenhagen: A Love Story - Thomas E. Kennedy

Day 26 - Poetry - Coleridge and Dahl.


Day 27 - Tourism Day



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text 2014-09-12 22:07
Research or Procrastination?: London Monuments, Louis MacNeice, Nancy Spender, and Person from Porlock

I've really got to find a name for when I do this: wandering about the 'net, going from one subject/website to another, and digging up random information. So I can use that phrase instead of just say "well, I've been doing it again!" (I'm using Research or Procrastination for the moment, til I think of something better.) As always - when I do this I sometimes miss out on links or using different search terms. Please do let me know if you find something that I've missed or that needs correcting!


Also if you're a writer and haven't heard of "Person from Porlock" - skip to the end to find out more - I think you'll love this reference!


This session started with London Remembers, which is an attempt to log (photographs and text) all of the various memorials around London. If that kind of thing interests you, be sure to check out their pages Lost Memorials and Puzzle Corner (I REALLY want an answer to what this plaque is, and it's one of three! I do love this kind of mystery.). From all of that you'll see why I had to bookmark this site. And so today - probably because there are other (really dull) things I need to do - I thought I'd just peek in.


Under the link This Day, I was looking down the page of images of various people from history. And I clicked Louis MacNeice, because he had an interesting face. Also he looked somewhat bored and "oh just take the photo already"-ish. The blurb about his life/death:

 "Poet. Born Belfast, Northern Ireland at 2 Brookhill Avenue. Joined the BBC in 1941 as scriptwriter and producer and it was with the BBC, checking out the sound effects down a mineshaft, that he caught the pneumonia that was the cause of his death."

Of course I had to find out more - because here was someone doing audio recording work in the 1940s, and also yet another poet/author I hadn't heard of. And also that death sounded like it might have more of a story to it. (Spoiler, didn't find anything.)


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review 2014-07-28 23:05
Kubla Khan
Kubla Khan: A Pop-Up Version of Coleridge's Classic - Nick Bantock,Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I don't love this poem, and I didn't understand half of the illustrations. It's a good looking book, but not my favorite pop up.

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review 2014-05-25 12:23
Lyrical Ballads - William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lyrical Ballads - William Wordsworth,Samuel Taylor Coleridge,Michael Schmidt

I'm sorry, but I really don't see what the fuss is all about. After about 50 interminable pages of condescending poetic hokum in the form of Wordsworth's famous (infamous?) Preface, you get to the poems, which are, you know, nice and all, some of them have good rhymes, there are some undoubtedly beautiful passages...but it's all a bit meh. Apart from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", which is kind of awesome. Possibly this all makes me a bit of a philistine. Or just a Modernist. (I do like T.S. Eliot.)


Also, the whole romanticisation-of-poverty thing? Ugh. Just ugh. Poverty is not fun. It is not industrious, religious, healthy, clean, etc., especially not when written by a well-off middle-class guy whose brother went to Cambridge.


I think the Romantics annoy me just a little bit.

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