Finding the ‘I’ in Imagination: “Kubla Khan” as the Solution to the Problem of the Individual in Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is commonly read as a poem extolling the graces of Christian hospitality. Once the Mariner “inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good women,” both the reader and the Mariner are barraged with a catalogue of suffering that is only lifted when the Mariner finally learns to praise even that which is foreign to him. The result is a poem that, read in this fashion, seems guilty of overt moralizing, even though it claims to legitimize that moralizing through its presentation as an archaic ballad. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was, in spite of his fanatical devotion to science and metaphysics, a self-proclaimed Christian, and it is certainly not difficult to be persuaded that the ballad’s meaning is to be found entirely within the words of the 1817 version’s final marginal gloss: “And to teach by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God made and loveth” (614-617, gloss). Indeed, Coleridge apparently calls for both his Mariner and his readers to become participants in his notion of the One Whole. Yet the very nature of this ending to The Rime introduces a paradox with the basic tenets of Romanticism. How are we to resolve this belief in collectivity as a property of the divine with the Romantic trust in the imaginative power of the individual? (first paragraph)
"Finding the ‘I’ in Imagination: “Kubla Khan” as the Solution to the Problem of the Individual in Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,"
The Hilltop Review: Vol. 2:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol2/iss1/5