Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree” … Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on October 21, 1772, in Devon near the southwest tip of England. His influence on English literature in the Romantic period and beyond was significant not only because of his own poetry but through his friendship with poet William Wordsworth and others, and his literary criticism, which included the concept of willing suspension of disbelief. He suffered from poor health, stemming from rheumatic fever, and was often crippled by anxiety and depression, for which he was treated with laudanum (an opium mixture), resulting in addiction. One of his most famous poems, “Kubla Khan” (1797), was the product of an opium-influenced dream, after reading about Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China. Coleridge maintained he had remembered 200-300 lines of verse, but had written down only 30 lines when he was famously interrupted by “a person from Porlock” (a nearby town). It is believed the interruption was a convenient fiction.

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