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A poet claims that he wrote poems, "to preserve things" that he had seen, thought and felt - Explore the things that poets in this anthology have preserved and the ways in which they have preserved them in their poetry.

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Introduction

A poet claims that he wrote poems, "to preserve things" that he had seen, thought and felt. Explore the things that poets in this anthology have preserved and the ways in which they have preserved them in their poetry. (Material drawn from "Kubla Khan" and "An Arundel Tomb") Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" and Larkin's "An Arundel Tomb" are both examples in which the poets endeavour to record and preserve things. The important aspect however, is whether they succeed in such an attempt and whether the preservation of something in itself is meant to last indefinitely, or merely to exist until the imagination desires otherwise, or falters by the faults and tumult of mankind. On first glance, Kubla Khan appears to be a highly complex, unstructured and almost nonsensical poem, having been solely devised to confuse the minds of readers as to its meaning and significance. Indeed at first, there would appear to be none at all. Its complexity relates to the fact that it is incomplete, as is conveyed by its subtitle "A Vision in a Dream - A Fragment", hence the confusion felt when reading it. ...read more.

Middle

This denotes the "ceaseless turmoil" and "tumult" which is caused with the arrival of man: "By woman wailing for her demon lover". It is implied that man's presence is disruptive of perfection and tranquillity. Echoed again is the Book of Genises and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden due to their disruptive inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge. In the third stanza the metre changes completely and the language becomes more simplistic. The poet is now speaking of himself rather than Kubla Khan "In a vision once I saw". The poet seems to be deeply melancholic and nostalgic for the dream he has lost; "Could I revive within me/Her symphony and song". Evidence shows here the poet's failure at preserving his dream, which is metaphorically presented through the damage caused in Khan's Paradise, by man, who is threatening to destroy the perfection and Absolute Unity; "And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far/Ancestral voices prophesising war!" An Arundel Tomb, although, in contrast with Kubla Khan, is structured in regular, even stanzas, it likewise takes on the theme of the "preservation of things". ...read more.

Conclusion

As true meanings begin to fade, imagination and fanciful illusions of the human mind eventually take over, moulding and manipulating them to one's desired ideals. "Time has [indeed] transfigured them into untruth" Having explored both these poems and the ways in which the poets try "to preserve things", I conclude that the original intent to preserve something worthwhile at the outset of the poems, by the end the poems is shown in some way to have failed. In both poems this failure is apparently due to the interference of man, or simply by man's presence. In "Kubla Kahn" man's presence in Paradise is the force that corrupts the Absolute Unity that Khan endeavours to preserve, which in turn is metaphoric for the poet's failure to preserve his vision of the perfect dream. Likewise, the sculptor in "An Arundel Tomb" has interfered by adding irrelevant touches to the effigies, and ironically it is this minor detail that the imagination of man has picked up and twisted, thereby unknowingly corrupting the true statement the sculptor was trying to convey. This is metaphoric for the poet's statement of the impossibility to permanently preserve the state of something; in this case, the memory of someone. Like in Kubla Khan it is a transient vision, a vision that fades and dies. Catherine Maxwell 1 ...read more.

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