Friday, December 31, 2010

Reading Response #3 Punished!

Alice Chandler’s “Structure and Symbol in Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, discusses the use of arrangement and symbolism in Samuel Coleridge poem. Chandler explains how Coleridge use of repetition and linkage as a way to covey an imagery change or shift in the Mariner’s life.
The Albatross is a significant symbolism in this poem. The bird is an omen of good fortune to the Mariner and his crew because it helped guide the ship to safety. Once the Mariner does a senseless act of killing the albatross he had committed a crime much greater than a simple sin. He had killed one of God’s creations. Nature starts to change drastically from here on. His crew mates hung the dead albatross over his neck to serve as a burden that he must carry (penance) as a reminder of his sin, i.e. similar image of Christ on a cross. From there he goes through a journey of life and death, heaven and hell and everything in between in order to learn from his mistake.
During the course of the trip he goes from normalcy, sinning, purgatory, salvation to rebirth. To begin the healing process the mariner must ask for forgiveness and face his punishment just as a soul struggles to rid itself of evil as it’s baptized. In time he sees the slimy sea serpents in the sea and realizes that even these rotten creatures, along with the albatross, are beautiful in the eyes of God.
Some other symbolisms that Chandler discusses are Coleridge private symbols of circles and clefts. In the poem circular movement in a sign of holiness and cleft or cracks usually symbolize a break through in new life, usually good. Coleridge uses these image a few times echoing the meaning and association from the others.
Modulation is one of the other techniques that he uses to display the supernatural appearances. There are many references to God that is made as well as the Ancient Mariner’s slaying of the albatross is equal to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.
The sun and moon play a significant role in the poem. Sun represent God, which reference to Christian concept of vengeful, wrathful, bad, disturbance usually happen during the day; calm, favorable things occur during the night. For example, the mariner’s curse lifts and he returns home by moonlight.

Some reoccurring themes that Chandler regularly mentions throughout include nature, both in its beauty and horror. While reading this poem, I wasn’t able to fully comprehend the phase that the Mariner was experiencing. It’s a cycle; he sins by killing the holy bird then obtain salvation by understanding his wrong doings to later gaining redemption and rebirth.
 Coleridge sees nature as a motion. “In his loneliness and fixedness (the Mariner) yearned towards the journeying Moon, and the stars that…still move onward.” Emphasizing that motion is the symbol of living nature. The Mariner went from no love to burning hell for the punishment of his act. After the immobility of the wind, sea and ship the motion of the moon breaks the spell. It reappearance corresponds with his readiness to move on (emerging life).
As his perception changes he no longer focus on the dead men on the ship, but on the living beings in the ocean. He sees then is a different light. The adjectives “rich,” “glossy,” and “velvet” are now transformed from terror back to beauty. Coleridge uses color to show the transformation from one scene to another. For the color clash between rose and coppery red is the conflict between normalcy and guilt. The images of dryness and stillness, adding the color black “with black lips baked” add to the spectrum of death associated hues.
With the appearance of the albatross it calms nature and human were able to enjoy life in unfavorable conditions. The Mariner’s mix feelings are significant, for his transformation from hell to blessed is at the heart of the poem. The whole moral of this story is the purpose of one man’s act of evil affects him and the people around him. Coleridge poem is heavily influenced by religious imagery and motifs. The Mariner represents many of the corruption that is affecting our society today.

Prose Poem: My Everlasting Heaven Without You

Even when the sky is falling down, you were never there for me. The world seems lonely on a summer day without a single cloud. The only sound I hear is the beating of my empty heart. As the fog dissipates, I feel the early sunrise breeze on my sun burnt hands and feet. I paid no attention to the aching pain on my skin.
Oh how my white dress has gotten dirty like an old rag. I laid down on the cold unforgiving beach to rest. The warming sun rays slowly awaken me from my deep slumber. I’m prepared to face the trials that lie ahead.
Do you still remember, to this day?
Singing along to a love song, reflected in your eyes, the way we felt around the time we met?
When we were so naive and energetic? Now we can’t return to those times even if it was possible.
So goodbye innocence, so goodbye happiness.
I was running around in blissful ignorance. Day and months went by so fast. Summer turned into winter and continued on its own cycle that no one can dare stop. Around me creation just turns and turns…
I feel as if I was in an unconscious paradise. I’m always dreaming with no limits. Oh how the landscape I see brings me warmth and tranquility. I bathed in the radiant sunlight. The brightness made every single shadow invisible.
You no longer mean anything to my heart. Everything was a lie.
Getting across the treacherous mountain I went. The rain poured down on me, washing away my deepest fear. Once on the top, standing there I discover what good was waiting for me on the other side. Awaken from my deep slumber I was able to see life with a new understanding. I no longer am carrying the heavy burden on my chest. The night light of the moon shined brightly against my skin as if I was glowing.

Who is Silas Tomkyn Comberbache?

When people hear the name Samuel Taylor Coleridge most will say “who?” Unless you’ve learned something about the Romanticism era or English romantic poets you probably have no idea who I would be talking about. Than if I throw the name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbache out people will be very confused, even if they do have some knowledge about Coleridge and his life. The truth is Silas Tomkyn Comberbache and Samuel Taylor Coleridge is in fact the same person. How did this come to be? It started out as Coleridge being a student at Jesus College in England and being very unhappy, he joined a reformist movement and dropped out of school. Since the movement was stimulated by the French Revolution Coleridge soon started getting in trouble with the law and with debt. After an unfortunate love affair ending badly he signed up for the 15thLight Dragoons under the name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. Did anyone just catch that? Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. STC! He started his new name with the same initials of his old one, how creative. But Coleridge was not cut out for war and battles and was discharged by his brother Captain James Coleridge due to ‘insanity’. Nice cover up brother. Upon him moving to Cambridge he met future radical poet Robert Southey who would in turn jump start Coleridge’s love for poetry.
Some of you may be wondering what is the 15th Dragoons Light and what did they do. The Dragoons Light are troops that were trained for reconnaissance and patrolling, in other words scouting for many different areas of the world. The 15th Dragoons Light was the first formed during the Eighteenth Century (1759 to be exact). This is the one that Coleridge joined for a short period of time.  Soon the boys became known as hussars due to their stylish uniforms, sporting blues, gold’s and yellows. Only after the British army adopted some of them did they change their style to a more khaki. Over a few hundred years the Dragoon Light troops had fought in a near dozen wars, and even changed their name (Royal Hussars). But finally in the late 1980’s they went back to Dragoons Light and took orders from the Princess of Wales, as their first colonel in chief. They have been called the best regiment in the army and still uphold that name today.

An early portrait of the 15th Dragoons Light troop.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Child's Evening Prayer

A Child's Evening Prayer By Samuel Coleridge

Ere on my bed my limbs I lay,
God grant me grace my prayers to say:
O God! preserve my mother dear
In strength and health for many a year;
And, O! preserve my father too,
And may I pay him reverence due;
And may I my best thoughts employ
To be my parents' hope and joy;
And, O! preserve my brothers both
From evil doings and from sloth,
And may we always love each other,
Our friends, our father, and our mother,
And still, O Lord, to me impart
An innocent and grateful heart,
That after my last steep I may
Awake to thy eternal day! Amen

* This poem written by Coleridge is a good example of what type of prayer demonstrated what being a Christian really meant. Back in the time that this was written when a child or anyone prays, they would pray for things that really matter in a person’s life. Things like family, good health, peace, and all of the overall important things in life. Now a days, you hear people praying for things that are not important, such as money, good cars, expensive things for a birthday or Christmas, praying that your parents will let you do something that you want to do, or even praying to not get into trouble for something that you did. In the years that this poem was written it was believed and practiced that nothing else was more important than family, protection from sins/devil, and good health to all and all the good things in life. Most importantly, not praying for own selfish reasons. In the end, family and good health is what really matters. If you ever became sick with cancer or something having an expensive car or not getting in trouble for that thing you did last week really doesn’t matter. At that point the only thing that you do care about is getting better and being able to live your life to the fullest. And in your time of need, that money or new video game that you prayed for is not going to be there by your side supporting you. Your family is who is going to be there for you. And as much as you say that you can’t stand your parents or you sibling or whoever, you know that you would be sad if they died and you would probably wish that things were different between the two of you. Yes, it’s true that having things like money, nice cars or whatever is nice but it’s not everything. And it most certainly isn’t what is most important in life. I think that most people who read this poem just overlook it and don’t really take the time to think about how different things are in this time. And I believe that in order to really understand what I’m saying, you would have had to experience something that really makes you think about what is important.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coleridge & Opium. How does it effect you?

It’s no secret now a day that Samuel Taylor Coleridge frequently went to the medicine cabinet for his fix of opium. He suffered from neuralgic and rheumatic pains, allowing him to go to his doctor and ask for something to ease his suffering and TA DA! He now has access to opium. Although Coleridge tried to hide his addiction from his family and friends he could no longer after a published book called Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey reviled him as an opium addict. Many say that he would take opium to better able himself to become lucid in his dreams, therefore making better poetry and having “clearer images and thoughts”. It was also said because of this that the birth of one of his famous poems, “Kubla Khan” was created. But the poem was only a fragment of the vision he had seen due to a visitor coming and disturbing his sleep, allowing him to not fully remember everything he had “saw”.  
Now some of you may be wondering what exactly is opium and what does it do to you and your mind? Opium is a naturally occurring substance found in the seeds of a plant called Papaver Somniferum (Opium Poppy). Opium itself is a combination of different chemicals, one of the most popular being morphine. You may better know opium as “O.P.", "hop", "midnight oil", or the "Big O", traditionally though opium is known as the "dream stick". Now in modern era some say you can take opium seeds and use them to create heroin. Others believe that they are an ancient remedy to heal inflammation and curb pain. Both are true on how opium has been used in past and present. Opium is a stimulant narcotic meaning it can be highly addictive and those who use on a regular basis may become addicted and grow a tolerance for the drug, allowing them to take it in higher doses. This is what happened to Coleridge since his physician allowed him to pretty much have card blanc on the drug. The addiction to opium caused Coleridge to destroy his relationship with his wife and loose a friendship between him and fellow poet William Wordsworth. Later in 1813 Coleridge had enough and sought help to free him from the grip opium held on him and became clean with the help of Dr. James Gillman.

This is the Opium Poppy, the seeds from this plant can be used to create the drug opium.
If you feel you may be addicted to opium you can click the link below to help understand the addiction and where to get help. Am I an opium addict?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Themes and Symbolism of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

One of the themes in Rime of the Ancient Mariner is Sin and Redemption. After the Mariner commits the sin of shooting the Albatross, guilt begins to manifest in all kinds of super natural forms. The Albatross is a representative of nature, but means nothing to the Mariner. Nature quickly changes and began punishing him for killing the symbol of nature. He is then penalized by the rays of the sun and mocked by the sight of water that he could not drink.
Afterward the Mariner begins realizing what the beauty of nature really means to him. At this point he has a change of heart and repents his wrong doing. The mariner begins to find his salvation when he starts to see the ‘slimy things’ as creatures of strange beauty. He now understands the Albatross is a symbol of nature and he realizes what he had done wrong. The bird, which is hung around his neck as a punishment, falls into the water and makes the change from punishment to penance.

Two super natural figure shows up, one is Life in Death and the other is Death. They both gamble for his life and Life in Death ends up winning the Mariner. He now must live life in death and endure his penance for the rest of his life and seek out certain people to tell his tale because his soul tortures him until he delivers the message. Another theme in this poem is respect for nature. All Romantic poets including Coleridge worship nature and the beauty of the natural world. Everyone should respect all of God’s creation as well as the Albatross and the sea snake.
The Mariner is an actual symbolic representation of Adam. The Ancient Mariner slaying of the Albatross is equal to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. This story takes on elements from the stories of Adam and Eve and crucifixion of Christ.
The moon and sun plays an important symbol in this story. The sun represents God’s influence of wrathful power but the moon has a more positive association than the sun. Generally troubling outcome happens to the Mariner during the day while more favorable result happens by moon light. For example, the mariner’s curse lifts and he returns home by moonlight.

Gustav Dore's Illustrations for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Mariner stops the Wedding guest.

The wedding guest hears the Mariner begin his tale.

The bride and groom arrived for the wedding banquet.
The ship is caught in the ice at the South pole, when the Albatross of good omen arrives.
The Mariner's isolation after killing the Albatross.

The ghost ship carrying Death and his mate, Life in Death. The two play a game for possession of the sailors' lives. Death wins the shipmate but Life in Death wins the Mariner.

With everyone around him dead, he remains alive with the Albatross hung around his neck as a symbol of guilt.
The Mariner see the creature around him and blesses them unaware. This act of love causes the Albatross to drop from his neck, and angelic spirit approach to begin his redemption.
His on going penance; he must live the rest of his life telling people about his story.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From Coleridge to Pop Culture

Lyrics: Xandu by Rush

"To seek the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
To break my fast on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise...."

I had heard the whispered tales
Of immortality
The deepest mystery
From an ancient book. I took a clue
I scaled the frozen mountain tops
Of eastern lands unknown
Time and Man alone
Searching for the lost ---- Xanadu

Xanadu ---- To stand within The Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste anew the fruits of life
The last immortal man
To find the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
Oh, I will dine on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise

A thousand years have come and gone
But time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view
Waiting for the world to end
Weary of the night
Praying for the light
Prison of the lost ---- Xanadu

Xanadu ---- Held within The Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste my bitter triumph
As a mad immortal man
Nevermore shall I return
Escape these caves of ice
For I have dined on honey dew
And drunk the milk of Paradise

Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968. The band composed of 3 members. Geddy Lee: lead vocals, synthesizers, and bass. Alex Lifeson: guitars, bass pedals, and back up vocals. John Rutsey: drums and percussion. Rush sold record breaking albums placing them behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Rush has become known for the instrumental expertise of its members, complex compositions, and diverse lyrical motifs portray heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy, as well as addressing humanitarian, social, emotional, and environmental concerns.
Xandu by Rush was written by Neil Peart who is one of the three band members. Although he wasn’t on opium like Coleridge he might have smoked a little hash. The song idea was originally inspired by the movie Citizen Kane.
At the beginning of the movie, the opening lines from 'Kubla Khan' were quoted, 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree.' Neil became fascinated on that phrase and decided to further research on the poem Kubla Khan. He was so powerfully impressed by its imagery and emotional power that the poem took over the song. The poem Kubla Khan was the inspiration for Rush's Xanadu. Another line from 'Kubla Khan,' 'woman wailing for her demon-lover,' showed up almost twenty years later as 'Daughter of a demon-lover,' in their song 'Animate'. Neil portrayed Coleridge's idea of immortality as a grim curse. 
Xanadu is the fictional name of the land where Khubla Khan wanted the dome to be built. The word Xanadu means a paradise and it is an actually place in Asia. The city was located in what is now called Inner Mongolia. Xanadu or Shangdu was the summer capital of Kublai Khan's Mongol Empire.

Xanadu in popular culture:

  • Canadian rock band Rush has a song called "Xanadu" on the album A Farewell to Kings which incorporates lines of Coleridge's poem.
  • Italian metal band Stormlord has a song called "Xanadu" on the album At the Gates of Utopia which quotes the first segment of the poem.
  • Japanese visual kei band Moi dix Mois has a song called "Xanadu" on their fourth album, Dixanadu.
  • The song "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is based on the Coleridge poem.
  • The 1980 musical film Xanadu is considered a cult film. It featured music by Electric Light Orchestra and John Farrar who wrote most of Olivia Newton-John's hits from the film. The film's title track, "Xanadu", was a major hit for the Australian pop singer Olivia Newton-John.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Summary and Interpertation of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

Click here to view "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

To start off this poem, the reader is taken to the scene of a wedding. Quite a beautiful way to start a poem wouldn't you think? In comes in this mariner, wanting to share his story. A story in my opinion has quite a valuable "take home" lesson that can be used in life. In the beginning of the mariner's story he recalls being with his crew and being lost at sea. With ice all around, there is no life, no hope. At last, a small symbol of hope appears in the shape of an albatross. Along with the albatross comes good fortune to the crew. Out of boredom; or who knows why, the mariner shoots the albatross with his crossbow. This action leads to great misfortune to the crew, especially the mariner. The crew goes hungry and thirsty. They are never to make progress towards their destination. After much suffering what appears to be a ghost ship appears. Death and his mate play a game. The mate wins and decides the fate of the ship. Life-in-death is what she decided. The mariner is forced to watch as all of his fellow crew members drop dead before him and there is nothing that he can do about it. After much suffering, the mariner is forgiven and travels to tell his story to others, like the wedding guest.
What I think the lesson in this poem is that you should think before you act and also destroying hope for others can ultimately come back to haunt you. The mariner didn't think about all of the good luck and happiness that the albatross was bringing before he shot the bird. If he would of thought before he acted then his crew and him wouldn't of had to suffer the way that they did. Karma plays a really big part in this poem. The evidence is everything that happens to the mariner after he shoots the bird. I think that the lessons in this poem are really good things that people really need to learn and apply in their lives.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Welcome to Coleridge Comerbache; the Man of Two Names! This blog is deicated to Mr. Samuel Taylor Coleridge aka Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. Feel free to look around, ask questions and comment on our post.
Thanks! The Coleridge 4.