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When I Was About Your Age


my great aunt, who was the
librarian of Vassar College,
gave me an old navy-blue book,
The Oxford Book of English Verse.
It was from 1942. Back then,
it was amazing that a girl could
have a major librarian job like
hers, but she did. So I read and read it,
and lots of the book was in very
weird-looking English. About
a third of the way through there is a
poem called "The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner," by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
I think you'd like it a lot, because
you're an experienced cruising sailor,
and you have a great science sense,
and you like challenges. It's about
a cruise to the South Pole, it's told
by one of the sailors, to a man he meets;
it's a ghost story and a nature story.
It's full of surprises, like this one:
"The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the Sea came he!" Really?
The sun came out of the sea?
Well, no! But it's a
great way to talk about
the power of the sun.
Anyway, there was an
artist in France, Gustave Doré,
who loved "The Rime," too, and
he made pictures, engravings,
to show us what he thought
the voyage was like. Please
Google Doré and see what
you think.

               Coleridge and Doré
both loved to be scared, and
they loved joy too. They
loved to make fear and joy
in art. Coleridge
would go on walking
tours with his friends
by lakes and mountains.
Another poem in
the OBEV, much shorter,
is "Kubla Khan."
Kubla was king
in China. He built
a palace called
"a stately pleasure-
dome," which meant
a regular palace and
a palace of poetry
both at the same
time. Coleridge
loved to do several
things at once.
And anyway,
this book, The Oxford
Book of English
Verse
, used to be
mine, and now it's
yours; your name
is in it for good.


Caroline Knox

Tin House

Volume 15, Number 3 2014


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