17th July 2020

My somnial wanderings are recently filled with Coleridge like punctuation, visions of canvas and silk constructs, yurt like but without obvious means of progression, invested with scented floral interiors and having throughout sumptuously pillowed areas for repose and contemplation.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Located cleverly withing the bounds of an -established remote and private space well beyond the sight of prying eyes, cradled in the comforting arms of a forests care, filled with the soft and seductive ambience of peaceful harmony.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

Laid about a mighty peak that casts its shadow over all, and through the changing seasons gifts forth a steady flow of crystal waters to bless the soil below. From spring to rivulet, then rivulet to stream, from stream to lake and then to lake again, till finally seeping through gray glistening rock the now tumultuous flow does reach the sea itself. Yet still, surrounded as it were by Paradises garden, my mind is tortured with whisperings of dangers unseen, sure to threaten all with tumults dark cloud.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

Raising myself upon mine elbows this lord looks fretfully outwards, the whispering in my ears swelling louder and louder, begging me to rise but once more to save all.  Still the gentle swaying motion of the pleasure pavilion, filled so luxuriantly with the intoxicating scent of freshly proffered garlands seduces the ruler of the world to sink backward deep into the divans cushioned comfort. Perhaps a golden cup of crushed ice will help exhaust this Khans lethargy? Fresh delivered at inordinate expense for mine divine comfort alone.

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

In the final stanza dear Coleridge shifts premise and compares Xanadu to Mount Abora, a place of great beauty from Abyssinian legend, considered by many in that ancient world as equal if not exceeding the Kubla Khans creation. The rendition is given to me in the form of a melodious song sung by a damsel, performing with dulcimer, seducing all with rapturous verbiage and promises of ecstasy, closely following the oft impassioned meanderings of an opium induced state of awareness.. That my ‘dream’ suddenly metamorphs to ‘nightmare’ is probably but a mirror reflecting the topsy turvy revelations that the ‘milk of Paradise’ might well induce.

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Sweet Coleridge’s methodology for transcending the plains of consciousness in this his most productive period was largely opioid, an unfortunate addiction that has ensured that the world is obliged to accept what is at best an incomplete work as one of the unquestioned highlights of his poetic genius. As with Byron and Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s search for enlightenment and artistic inspiration most decidedly directed him towards and eventually down a rabbit hole that curtailed both his productivity and the ability to see projects to a truly finished conclusion.

We can see definite comparisons to many other artists of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century Pre Raphaelite period, whose abilities were substantially marred by the very brilliance of their genius and the varied appetites and habits that particularly brother and sisterhood found to invigorate, slake,  arouse and satisfy their collective and individual senses. Unquestionably the sudden amalgam of unlimited talent, financial independence and libertarian morality produced in what was but a few fleet decades a wholesale and irreversible revolution of the artistic and literary worlds.

Mine own adversity to such chemical stimuli has propelled me on a different avenue to enlightenment, one of solitude, much musing and contemplation, and a perhaps uniquely abstract perception of reality.

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