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HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > Athanasius Kircher > 1. River of Paradise, rising out of the ground                          

 

 

1. River of Paradise

 2. Cedars on the plain of the Nile

3. Odoardus on the Nile

4. Peter Pais on meandering

5. Peter Pais on fountains that cannot be measured

Athanasius Kircher

1. River of Paradise, rising out of the ground

Following the theory that one of the four holy rivers pouring out of Paradise was called Gihon, and the Arabic tradition that, of course, Gihon is really the Nile, Moses bar Cepha, the Arab geographer, describes how the river plunges deep in the earth, then emerges in the highlands of Ethiopia.

Kircher quotes bar Cepha in Latin, and Lowes translates for us.

When asked how the river could rise back to the surface, bar Cepha comes up with a model putting Paradise much higher than Ethiopia, so the river plunges down with such force that, of course, it must rise up again at the headwaters of the Nile, in Ethiopia.

With God all things are possible.

And for Lowes, this holy river pouring down into caverns, and coming back up out of the earth in chasms, with immense force, may have been in the back of Coleridge's mind as he wrote Kubla Khan.

Text

Nomen secundi fluvii Gihhon (qui et Nilus dicitur) hic omnem terram Chus percurrit; nam simul ac paradisum egreditur, infra profunda maris et Oceani vada dilapsus, hinc rursus per occultos terrae meatus emergit in montibus Aethiopicis…

Sed urgebit, inquit, aliquis, qui fieri posit, ut fluvii illi e paradise egressi sub Oceani vada et cor maris praecipitentur, atque inde tandem in hac terra nostra emergant?…

Deinde hoc quoque asserimus, paradisum multo sublimiore regione positum esse, raneorum meatuum praecipitia delabantur fluvii, tanto cum impetus impulse, coarctatique sub maris fundum rapiantur, unde rursus emergant, ebulliantque in hoc orbe nostro --Kircher, I 52.

Other sources

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

Mary Wollstonecraft

Lowes translation: The name of the second river is Gihon (which is also called the Nile): it flows through all the land of Chus. For no sooner has it come out of Paradise than it vanishes beneath the depths of the sea and the streams of Ocean, whence, through secret passages of the earth, it emerges again in the mountains of Ethiopia…..But someone will ask, how is it possible that these rivers, when once they have passed out of Paradise, should be precipitated beneath the streams of Ocean and the heart of the sea, and should then at length emerge in this our land?

This also we assert, that Paradise lies in a much higher region than this land, and so it happens that the rivers, impelled by so mighty a force, descend thence through huge chasms and subterranean channels, and, thus confined, are hurried away beneath the bottom of the sea, whence they again emerge and boil up in our orb. 53-4

 
Word Line # Line Sources for word
Chasm

12

But oh! That deep romantic chasm which slanted

 Beckford
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 Strabo 2

 

17

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething

 Beckford
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 Strabo 2

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

Forced

19

A mighty fountain momently was forced

 Bartram 7
 Bernier 2
 Bruce 3
 Bruce 7
 Kircher 1
 Strabo 2

Huge 21 Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail  Kircher 1
 Wollstonecraft
Mighty 19 A mighty fountain momently was forced Bartram 8
Kircher 1
Pausanias
Ocean

28

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean

 Kircher 1
 Maurice 1

 Milton 2
 Seneca 2

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

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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