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HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > Mary Wollstonecraft                           

 

 

1. Island in the middle of waterfalls

Mary Wollstonecraft

Coleridge made a note to read Mary Wollstonecraft's letters ,though we do not know whether he did. In his Note Book, he wrote:

Epistle to Mrs. Wolstoncraft urging her to Religion. Read her Travels.

We can get some idea of why Coleridge might have wanted to read her book from a letter written by the poet Southey, in April 1797, to his brother Tom:

Have you ever met with Mary Wollstonecraft's letters from Sweden and Norway? She has made me in love with a cold climate, and frost and snow, with a northern moonlight.

But even Lowes is not sure she might be a source, or influence on Kubla Khan.

Referring to the following passage, Lowes asks hopefully:

Did that perhaps lend a word or two, at least, to "Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail"?  The links are there, and it is not impossible. (p. 593)

 

Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters, Written during a short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, London, 1796.

Other sources

William Bartram
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

 

1. Island in the middle of waterfalls

Here we have a dramatic scene of an island by moonlight, where waterfalls pour down on rocks, and rebound. The island seems to divide the torrent, so that part of the water seemed to be coming up from a cavern, in a fountain, pouring out of the earth.

In this imagery, Lowes sees parallels with the river Alph, in Kubla Khan, pouring up and rebounding, intermittently, coming out of a cavern deep in the earth.

Also similar is the awe she feels at the sight, and her losing herself in the sight, recognizing what her imagination--or fancy--has suggested to her.

Text

Getting amongst the rocks and islands as the moon rose, and the stars darted forward out of the clear expanse, I forgot that the night stole on. --Letters, p. 178

Coming to the conflux of the various cataracts, rushing from different falls, struggling with the huge masses of rock, and rebounding from the profound cavities, I…acknowledge that it was indeed a grand object. A little island stood in the midst…which, by dividing the torrent, rendered it more picturesque; one part appearing to issue from a dark cavern, that fancy might easily imagine a vast fountain, throwing up its waters from the very center of the earth. --Letters, pp. 189-190

 
Word Line # Line Sources for word
Amid 20 Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst  Bernier 1
 Bernier 3
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2
 Herodotus
 Milton 4
 Purchas 1
 Purchas 2
 Wollstonecraft
Caverns

4

Through caverns measureless to man

 Bartram 5
 Bruce 1
 Kircher 2
 Rennell
 Strabo 2
 Wollstonecraft

 

27

Then reached the caverns measureless to man

 Bartram 5
 Bruce 1
 Kircher 2
 Rennell
 Strabo 2
 Wollstonecraft

Earth

18

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing

 Bartram 2
 Bartram 6
 Bartram 8
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 5
 Bruce 1
 Burnet 2
 Kircher 1

 Kircher 3

 Maurice 1

 Milton 2

 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Seneca 1
 Seneca 2
 Wollstonecraft

Fountain

19

A mighty fountain momently was forced

 Bartram 4
 Bartram 5
 Bartram 6

 Bartram 7

 Bartram 8
 Beckford
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 4
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2

 Bruce 3

 Burnet 1
 Herodotus
 Maurice 2
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Virgil
 Wollstonecraft

 

34

From the fountain and the caves

 Bartram 4
 Bartram 5
 Bartram 6

 Bartram 7

 Bartram 8
 Beckford
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 4
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2

 Bruce 3

 Burnet 1
 Herodotus
 Maurice 2
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Virgil
 Wollstonecraft

Huge 21 Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail  Kircher 1
 Wollstonecraft
Mid 23    Bernier 1
 Bernier 3
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2
 Herodotus
 Milton 4
 Purchas 1
 Purchas 2
 Wollstonecraft
  29   Bernier 1
Bernier 3
Bruce 1
Bruce 2
Herodotus
Milton 4
Purchas 1
Purchas 2
Wollstonecraft
Midway 32 Floated midway on the waves Bernier 1
Bernier 3
Bruce 1
Bruce 2
Herodotus
Milton 4
Purchas 1
Purchas 2
Wollstonecraft
Moon

15

As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted

Bruce 6
Maurice 1
Maurice 2

Purchas 5

Wollstonecraft

Rebounding

21

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail

 Wollstonecraft
 

Rocks

23

And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

 Bartram 5
 Bartram 6
 Bartram 7
 Bartram 8

 Bruce 2
 Bruce 7

 Collins
 Milton 6
 Wollstonecraft
 

 

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