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HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > Thomas Burnet > 2. The dark pipes of the earth                       



1. Rivers flowing from Paradise

2. The dark pipes of the earth

Thomas Burnet

2. The dark pipes of the earth

Sure, Coleridge read Burnet, and took inspiration from him. But is this a particularly compelling example?

Lowes describes Burnet's vision of great flood:

Beneath the hollow shell of the earth lay, from the beginning, the waters of the great abyss. At the deluge the fountains of the deep were broken up and the shattered frame of the earth sank beneath the rush of the ascending floods. Subterranean rivers still pursue their way "through the dark pipes of the earth" and beneath us still are gathered up, in subterranean lakes and seas, the cataracts of the abyss. And at the end, when the earth shall melt with fervent heat, the waters that are under the earth, pent up and turned to steam, will lend their shattering aid again, to bring about the last catastrophe.

Do the dark pipes really appear in Kubla Khan? I doubt it. Did this suggest the way the River Alph descended into a sunless sea, then rose again in fountains?  Perhaps.  But that hypothesis requires quite a stretch.


Through the dark pipes of the earth.

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

Word Line # Line Sources for word


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
 Seneca 1
 Seneca 2


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