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March 05, 2021


What a fine tribute to Coleridge's RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER and his other amazing work.I have always loved (and used) his vital contrast (in BIOGRAPHIA LITERARIA) between "fancy" ("fixed and dead") and "imagination," which is "gifted with "esemplastic power." And the end of "Kubla Khan" is indeed great. The mysterious "milk of paradise" is both innocent and sublimely canny. Thank you, David.

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Angela.

There are twenty-three poems in 1798 LB, not twenty-four, a not inconsiderable fact when one remembers that the poem at dead center is "The Thorn."

Thanks for your comment, Theodore. There were 23 poems in the 1798 edition, of which my favorites are the Ancient Mariner and Tintern Abbey.

I enjoyed reading this blog post so much! I first read this poem in high school and I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I could have (although it made an impression). For some reason I never studied it in college during many years as an English major. How wonderful to be inspired to reread it again and to see it in a more mature light.

Thank you, David, for this sensitive and insightful re-reading. I am grateful to have "The Ancient Mariner" thrust into the foreground of my consciousness again. For another disaster at sea poem, I suggest re-reading G.M.Hopkins "The Wreck of the Hesperus" as a comparison.


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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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