Monday, April 28, 2014

X: Xanadu!

Before we begin today's post, I just want to say that I'm a guest poster over at Out Where the Buses Don't Run.  Thanks, Gus!  So when you finish reading my X-related ramblings, drop on over and show some love!

Not a whole novel.  But the only thing I could come up with for X, unless I featured my own Xavier Xanthum stories.  Besides, at this point in the month, a fairly short poem seems like a great subject!  So I have chosen Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "Kubla Khan," about Xanadu.  It's one of many from which I have memorized the first several lines--and no more (my brain seems to absorb up to a point without effort.  After that--bleh).   Xanadu seems to sit in the heart of wilderness, despite Kubla Khan's efforts to tame it. . .and he himself was pretty wild.  So that's my tenuous wilderness tie-in.

Instead of a review (even I don't have the chutzpah to review Coleridge!) I just going to share some of my favorite bits.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
. . .
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon lover!

Just a reminder for anyone who thinks that the Romantic poets were all about sweetness and light and clouds of daffodils!  Turns out they (well, people of that time, i.e. early-mid 19th Century) were also the folks who largely invented the idea of loving wilderness for being wild, rather than seeing it purely as something to tame.  They were also very much into the horrific (don't forget Frankenstein!), which shows in the second except above (love that "woman wailing for her demon lover").

From Coleridge and his love of the "deep romantic chasm" you could probably draw a straight line to people like Brad Washburn, whose life story I reviewed last week.  These are the people who love nature for the very fact that it's wild and could have you for breakfast without caring a whit.   Not everyone's on board with the idea even yet, but I'm very glad enough are, and have been, that we have some wilderness left to go to.


  1. I'm happy we still have wild and open spaces too, but some still scare me. Great post!
    And now I'm heading over to Gus' site!

    1. I'm only really scared of heights that I could fall off of. And I go there anyway.

  2. Lovely post - an Xcellent Xamination! (which I wrote before I realised I could X-temporise some more!)

    1. Before I discovered G. Chaucer, I thought I might make the Romantic Poets my area of study. I did like them, and still do, though I don't read much poetry these days.

  3. Glad I found your blog during the challenge. Look forward to reading it in the future.

    1. Thanks for coming by! I'm thinking of adding the photo feature as a more regular thing, just for fun!

  4. Hey, nice post on Where the buses don't run. I will look up your book. I love reading mysteries set here in the Puget Sound. I look forward to continued reading your blog, post A to Z. Glad I stumbled on to it.

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you did, too. And lest you wonder, I'm a 3rd-generation graduate of my island high school, so I'm a real Puget Sounder despite my California residency! Though my memories hark back to an earlier day.


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