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HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > William Bartram                           

 

 

1. The Serpentine Rivulet

2. Isle of Palms

3. Gordonia Lasianthus

4. Swelling Green Knoll

5. Crystal Fountain

6. Subterranean River

7. Manatee Springs

8. Alligator Hole

William Bartram

In 1791, William Bartram published a large book with a long title:

Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws, containing an Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of those Regions, together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians.

An energetic traveler and veteran note-taker, Bartram tells vivid stories of his tour of the backwaters and forests of America's south, just after the Revolution--close-ups of the natural world before humans cleaned out the woods for farming, straightened the paths into roads, and made the fields ready for cotton plantations.

Bartram appreciated the exotic detail, the raindrop on the leaf. He made a careful record of what he saw, heard, and even smelled in places that attracted him--and, to judge from his book, he stumbled on some extraordinarily beautiful scenes.

Coleridge seems to have enjoyed the tumbling rush of sensuous images, each striking and precise. Coleridge made notes about Bartram's book in his Note Book, transcribing passages from Bartram's pages 127-130, 140, 161-62, 132-33, and 212-213) and quoted him verbatim in a footnote to his poem, This Lime Tree Bower my Prison.

Lowes seizes on several passages where the imagery resembles that of Kubla Khan, and emphasizes the phrases that might, possibly, have suggested words in the poem. Unfortunately, in Lowes' hands, the text sometimes gets mangled, so we only see the phrases he thinks will prove that Coleridge borrowed, or recalled, or transformed the original language.

Other sources

William Beckford
F. Bernier
James Bruce
Thomas Burnet
William Collins
Herodotus
Athanasius Kircher
Jerome Lobo
Thomas Maurice
John Milton
Pausanias
Samuel Purchas
Major James Rennell
Seneca
Strabo
Virgil

Mary Wollstonecraft

 

 

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