Web Writing That Works!

           A Project of
           The Communication Circle

Guidelines Rants Patterns Poems Services Classes Press Blog Resources About Us Site Map

HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > Thomas Burnet                           



1. Rivers flowing from Paradise

2. The dark pipes of the earth

Thomas Burnet

Thomas Burnet wrote The Sacred Theory of Earth first in Latin, then in English, describing paradise, the flood, the burning of the world, and the new heavens and earth that will be  created after the Apocalypse. Hoping to make a poem out of the book, as a "grand Miltonic romance," (Lowes 392), Coleridge made notes toward that project:

Burnet's theoria telluris translated into Blank Verse, the original at the bottom of the page. (Archiv, p. 344)

Burnet/de montibus in English Blank Verse (Archiv p. 350)

But those projects never took shape. Still, the grandiosity of the vision, covering the beginning, end, and rebirth of the world, clearly appealed to Coleridge.

In his Biographia Literaria, Coleridge compares Burnet's book to the writings of Plato, saying they both "furnish undeniable proofs that poetry of the highest kind may exist without meter." (II, 11).

And in his Notes, Coleridge praises Burnet's work for its "Tartarean fury and turbulence." (Notes, Theological, Political, and Miscellaneous. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Edited by Rev. Derwent Coleridge. London, 1853.)

Lowes believes that Burnet's imagery contributed to the description of the sun hanging over the stranded ship in The Ancient Mariner, a little before Kubla Khan.

Given this thicket of evidence that Coleridge read and relished Burnet, we should not be surprised if Coleridge had a clear memory of images suggested by the Sacred Theory.

Sources: Thomas Burnet, Telluris Theoria Sacra…Libri duo priores de Diluvio et Paradiso, London, 1681; Libri duo posteriores de Conflagratione Mundi, et de Futuro Rerum Statu, London, 1689.
Thomas Burnet. The Sacred Theory of the Earth…in Four Books. I. Concerning the Deluge. II. Concerning Paradise. III. The Burning of the World. IV. The New Heavens and New Earth. Glasgow, 1753.

Other sources

William Bartram
William Beckford
F. Bernier
James Bruce
William Collins
Athanasius Kircher
Jerome Lobo
Thomas Maurice
John Milton
Samuel Purchas
Major James Rennell

Mary Wollstonecraft



Home | Guidelines | Rants | Patterns | Poems | Services | Classes | Press | Blog |
Resources | About Us | Site Map

Web Writing that Works!
 © 2004 Jonathan Price
The Communication Circle
Discuss at HotText@yahoogroups.com
Email us directly at ThePrices@ThePrices.com