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Essay/Term paper: How does coleridge in 'the rime of the ancient mariner' and 'kubla khan' show the interrelatedness between mankind, nature and the poetic experience?

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Literary Essays

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How Does Coleridge in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and 'Kubla Khan' Show the
Interrelatedness Between Mankind, Nature and the Poetic Experience?

Coleridge expresses many thoughtful and rather intense ideas in his poetry,
through using either peculiar or common images of all forms of nature ie human,
environmental or supernatural. His poetic expression is unique in its use of
extraordinary imagery and transition of mood yet he what he creates usually
conforms to numerous literary techniques. The recurring theme in many of his
poems is that of man's harmony with nature, and this idea, combined with his
bizarre and even eccentric poetic expression provides a basis for both 'The Rime
of the Ancient Mariner' and 'Kubla Khan'.

Mankind, firstly, is explored in both poems by placing the human nature in
situations where perhaps instinct acts before reason. In RAM, the ancient
mariner kills the albatross not for need or in distress, or for any reason that
mariner can deduce the result. He has unknowingly taken on a huge burden, and
the quest begins to extract all the rash impulsiveness of mankind. The mariner
now must search for moral, spiritual and internal rationality, and this goal is
expressed in the poem as a type of blessing or relief which he must earn. In
'Kubla Khan', Coleridge expresses man's social instinct to conform and belong to
a group. This also relates to the creation of rituals and rules by the human-
being and the obeying of the cycle of life to death, again and again. The
running theme of freedom and release for man is emphasised in both poems,
escaping from criticism, in the case of KK, and from blame and regret, in RAM.
They both explore the tendency to be impulsive for reasons accumulated through
the traits of human and social instinct, in contrast to that obtained naturally.
An example of this purely natural expression is that of the senses. KK is an
extremely sensual and sexual poem, appealing to maybe the animalistic part of
the human rather than to the section which recognises its reason and depth. In
RAM, the mariner is subjected to the elements of nature, where all his senses
are exposed to extreme environmental lengths. His instinct strays away from that
based on his position amongst the dead men and the burden he has acquired. He
becomes extremely sensitive in his sight, hearing, sense of touch, smell and
taste and it is then that the mariner becomes inharmonious with nature,
recognising its amazing transformation power and beauty.

The connection between nature and man is explained using the appealing and
repulsing elements of both. Nature is described in all its forms in both poems.
It can be abusive and battering, rampaging and passionate, soothing and
caressing, or steadfast and dependant. All these traits of nature can also be
traits of the human being, and if forced together, are likely to retaliate and
react. One always tries to control and overrun the other. In KK, there is the
creation of the dome concealing the perfect world and in RAM, the boat of the
mariner is thrust in all directions by nature. Therefore, the emphasis on
harmony and freedom depend on mankind and nature complimenting each other. In KK,
the description of water in forms of rivers, oceans and waves could also express
the creativity and imagination of mankind, where neither can be controlled.

The humanisation of nature and the naturalisation of humankind are clearly but
creatively defined in KK and RAM, and probably only so due to Coleridge's poetic
expression. The experience his poetry leads his reader through is one which can
either lightly waft them through a flow of endless rhythm or haul and scrape
them through a definite grating pattern. The use of this experience emphasises
the contrast between the natural and unnatural. The sensuality of KK invites the
reader to dive into its pure imagery but at the same time be so repulsively
engrossed with its passion that no moral or creative insight could ever be
overlooked in the 'heat' of the expression. The poetic experience takes the
interrelatedness between man and nature through all the contrasting and
connecting associations they have. Nature is expressed using pulsing rhythms,
familiar images, or recurring sensations and therefore spreads from being a
state of weather, to a form of life, to a state of mind, and further to the

The interrelatedness between nature, mankind and the poetic experience is
crucial for the successful functioning of both 'Kubla Khan' and 'The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner.' Coleridge achieves these connections by interweaving common
themes and expressions, or using one to explain the other in order to attain
harmony. As a basis for both poems, this interrelatedness causes the branching
and probing into further questioning of morals and beliefs, achieving reflection
and spurring on thought.


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