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HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > Thomas Burnet > 1. Rivers flowing from Paradise                     

 

 

1. Rivers flowing from Paradise

2. The dark pipes of the earth

Thomas Burnet

1. Rivers flowing from Paradise

Genesis says that four rivers flowed out of Eden-Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Phrath. Many scholars have struggled to identify these rivers with ones we know, and most agree that the last two correspond to the Tigris and the Euphrates. Pison, though, could be the Indus, Danube, Nile, or Ganges. And Gihon might be the Nile.

If one of these is the Nile, though, scholars face the embarrassing problem that the desert of Arabia, and the waters of the Red Sea stand between the Nile we know and the traditional location for Paradise, in Mesopotamia (today's Iraq). So how could the Nile start in Iraq and then appear in Africa?

Lowes sums up the solution: "It must flow under ground and under sea. And that myth of the subterranean-submarine passage of the Nile from Asia through to Africa Coleridge certainly knew" 388 (from several authors, including Burnet). The following passage, Lowes argues, may have suggested an association between the holy rivers of Paradise, the Nile, and the river that bursts up from the depths of the earth, then plunges down to caverns measureless to man, in Kubla Khan.

Text

[The ancients] supposed generally, that paradise was in the other hemisphere…and yet they believed that Tygris, Euphrates, Nile, and Ganges were the rivers of paradise, or came out of it; and these two opinions they could not reconcile…but by supposing that these four rivers had their fountain-heads in the other hemisphere, and by some wonderful transjection broke out again here. --Sacred Theory,  I 226.

To this sense, also, Moses Bar Cepha often expresseth himself; as also Ephiphanius, Procopius Gazaeus, and Severianus in Catena. Which notion among the ancients, concerning the trajection or passage of the paradisiacal rivers under ground, or under sea, from one continent into another, is to me, I confess, unintelligible. --Sacred Theory, I 253.

Other sources

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

Mary Wollstonecraft

 

 
Word Line # Line Sources for word
Ancient 10 And here were forests ancient as the hills  Bernier 2
 Bruce 2
 Burnet 1
 Pausanias
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

Ground

6

So twice five miles of fertile ground

 Bartram 3
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2
 Burnet 1
 Milton 4
 Purchas 1

Paradise

54

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

 Beckford
 Bruce 1
 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Milton 1
 Milton 2
 Milton 4
 Milton 5
 Milton 6

 Purchas 4

River

3

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

 Bartram 3
 Bartram 6
 Beckford
 Bernier 1
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 3
 Bernier 5

 Bruce 2

 Bruce 4
 Bruce 6

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 Maurice 1
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2

 Virgil

 

24

It flung up momently the sacred river

 Bartram 3
 Bartram 6
 Beckford
 Bernier 1
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 3
 Bernier 5

 Bruce 2

 Bruce 4
 Bruce 6

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 Maurice 1
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2

 Virgil

 

26

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran

 Bartram 3
 Bartram 6
 Beckford
 Bernier 1
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 3
 Bernier 5

 Bruce 2

 Bruce 4
 Bruce 6

 Burnet 1

 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 Maurice 1
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2

 Virgil

Sacred

3

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

 Beckford
 
Burnet 1
 Maurice 1
 Maurice 2

 

24

It flung up momently the sacred river

 Beckford
 Burnet 1
 Maurice 1
 Maurice 2

 

26

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran

 Beckford
 
Burnet 1
 Maurice 1
 Maurice 2

Sea

5

Down to a sunless sea

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3

 Milton 2

 Pausanias
 Seneca 1
 Seneca 2
 Strabo 1
 Virgil

 

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