O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

S.T. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

            1772 - 1834
            English Romantic poet

            (1st generation)

                                                  The Rime
                           of the
                    Ancient Mariner

                   The ice was here, the ice was there,
                   The ice was all around:
                   It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
                   Like noises in a swound!

                  At length did cross an Albatross:
                  Thorough the fog it came;
                 As if it had been a Christian soul,
                 We hailed it in God's name.

                 It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
                 And round and round it flew.
                The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
                The helmsman steered us through!
                                                                                                         S.T. Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 
             This poem was first published in 1798 in Lyrical Ballads. It is a tale of sin and redemption and it is told by an ancient mariner who meets three men on their way to a wedding party. The mariner detains one of them and he recounts his story. He tells he was on a ship and how his ship was was driven by storms to the Antarctic, ‘the land of mist and snow’ where it became surrounded by ice. The ship was visited by an albatross, a great sea bird, that flew through the fog and seemed to befriend the men. They were glad to see the bird and greeted it with joy, and their luck improved: the ice broke up and a breeze from the south pushed them through the fog. That albatross seemed to be a good omen. The ship began to move and the bird flew along with them.  Suddenly, in what seems an inexplicable act of perverse cruelty, the Mariner shot the albatross, bringing a curse upon himself and his ship.  She is driven towards  the Equator and becalmed on a silent rotting sea under the burning sun.. the bird was hung around the neck of the mariner. Death and Life-in-Death appeared and played dice on a skeleton ship. When that vision vanished all the crew died with the exception of the mariner: he is left alone in an alien world.  In part 4 of the poem, in fact, the mariner describes how he felt cursed after the death of all his companions when he is left ‘Alone, alone, all alone, / on the wide wide sea’. Moved by the beauty of the watersnakes in the moonlight, the mariner blessed them, and the albatross fell from his neck. he is saved, but, in penance, condemned to travel the world teaching love and reverence for all God's creatures.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge  (1772 – 1834)  was  an  English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth(1770 – 1850), helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication of the Lyrical Ballads.

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