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Essay/Term paper: Coleridge

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Persuasive 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
unexplainable.

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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