48 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2015
    1. 638. The Lotos-Eaters

      List of academic sources for further reading:

      Bush, Douglas. Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933.

      Platizky, Roger S. ""Like Dull Narcotics, Numbing Pain": Speculations on Tennyson and Opium." Victorian Poetry 40.2 (2002): 209-15. Web.

      Pope, Alexander, and Maynard Mack. The Poems of Alexander Pope: Index. London: Methuen, 1969. Print.

      Stevenson, Catherine Barnes. “The Shade of Homer Exorcises the Ghost of De Quincey: Tennyson's "the Lotos-eaters"”. Browning Institute Studies 10 (1982): 117–141.

    2. poppy

      Here, Tennyson makes a direct reference to the poppy plant, which opium is derived from.

      During the Victorian era, opium was as common as aspirin is today. Doctors readily prescribed it for symptoms from common aches and pains to melancholy. Tennyson's own father, an alcoholic with erratic behavior, began using opium in his later life. He died shortly before this poem was written. Tennyson's brother Charles also developed an opium addiction around this time, leading to a break-up with his wife and probably preventing his return to Cambridge.

      Opium usage also permeated Tennyson's professional life. Writers of his time often associated opium with artistic sensibility. Around the 1820's, writer Thomas De Quincey began writing Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. He wrote about the wonders of opium and how it brought about "divining dreams" and "sublime Imagination". Samuel Taylor Coleridge had also written about his opium use in poems such as Kubla Khan, which Tennyson was reading.

      Works cited:

      Stevenson, Catherine Barnes. “The Shade of Homer Exorcises the Ghost of De Quincey: Tennyson's "the Lotos-eaters"”. Browning Institute Studies 10 (1982): 117–141.

      Platizky, Roger S. ""Like Dull Narcotics, Numbing Pain": Speculations on Tennyson and Opium." Victorian Poetry 40.2 (2002): 209-15. Web.

    3. In which it seemed always afternoon.

      Throughout the poem, Tennyson uses the word "seem" many times to represent the land of the lotus eaters, as well as the effects from the plants. Here, "seemed always afternoon" is used to provide a timeless and removed sensation to the setting. However, as the poem continues, these supernatural descriptions only "seem" to be; they do not truly exist in this way.

      Works cited:

      Stevenson, Catherine Barnes. “The Shade of Homer Exorcises the Ghost of De Quincey: Tennyson's "the Lotos-eaters"”. Browning Institute Studies 10 (1982): 117–141.

    4. “COURAGE!” he said, and pointed toward the land, “This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.”

      The Lotos-Eaters is a reference to a story from Book IX of Homer's Odyssey. The hero Odysseus and his crew are lost at sea after being blown off-course by a storm on their way home to Ithaca. At this point in the story, the mariners are weary from years of travel. Tennyson's poem begins as Odysseus sees land. "Courage!" he says, attempting to invigorate his crew's hopes.

      Tennyson deeply studied classical Greek works. He was considered to be "saturated in [Alexander] Pope's Homer" and "unwavering in his loyalty to the ancients." (Bush 351). Tennyson builds on this small event from the epic to represent a larger issue: the growing culture of opium dependency in his time.

      Works cited: Bush, Douglas. Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933.

    5. Elysian valleys

      In Greek mythology, Elysium (or Elysian fields or valleys) was a paradise where those blessed with immortality by the Gods were sent. In Homer's writings, it was a land of perfect happiness at the end of the Earth.

      Tennyson wraps his poem up here, leaving the mariners thinking about rest in the asphodel flowerbeds of the afterlife.

    6. On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.        155 For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d Far below them in the valleys

      The Gods sit smugly above the people toiling on the land. The reference to hurled bolts refers to Zeus, who had the ability to trow bolts of lightning.

    7. Roll’d to starboard, roll’d to larboard

      Again, a dizzying and swaying effect, but now the mariners themselves are the ones rolling around. They are tired of being tossed about their ship while at sea, and the effect is compared to the lotus being blown about the land.

    8. VIII

      The lotus now covers the land and blows through the air; they are consumed by it. Now lost and swirled up in the effects of the drugs, the mariners are removed from reality. They watch as people suffer through war and natural disaster caused by the smug Gods. Mankind works the land for "little dues of wheat, wine, and oil" to make it through the year, only to die.

    9. Round and round

      The lotus is blown about, creating a dizzying effect.

    10. VII

      The mariners are soothed again by the drugged experience of nature. The flower beds they rest upon consist of magical plants. Notice the flow of the river, which is slow and stretched through time.

    11. VI

      Like in the stanza leading up to the Choric Song, the mariners remember fondly their last memories of their wives. But they come to realize that they have been away from home for a long time. Their sons have probably inherited their land and possessions, and everyone is much older. The mariners and their heroism in the Trojan War are only remembered by songs sung by minstrels.

    12. Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore Than labor in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar; O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.

      Homer's tale of the lotus-eaters in the Odyssey ends with Odysseus dragging his men back to the ship and locking them up in order to continue their journey.

      Tennyson ends his poem before Odysseus's heroic act. The mariners' last thoughts are of finality, reinforcing their decision to remain on the island. They submit to the dream-like death of the lotus.

    13. Is there confusion in the little isle? Let what is broken so remain.

      They do not know if trouble or strife remains in their home of Ithaca, but they decide that it does not matter. Now, "confusion" is "worse than death."

    14. And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars

      Here, pilot-stars refers to celestial navigation. After years of trying to navigate home by the stars, they have grown weary.

    15. Most weary seem’d the sea, weary the oar, Weary the wandering fields of barren foam. Then some one said, “We will return no more;” And all at once they sang, “Our island home Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.”

      The mariners, "weary" of travel and hardship, decide not to continue their journey home.

    16. To muse and brood and live again in memory,        110 With those old faces of our infancy Heap’d over with a mound of grass, Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass!

      Under the dreamy influence, the mariners recall people from their past who have died. Their drugged state places them between life and death, which soothes the mariners.

    17. II

      In this stanza, the mariners begin to ask questions. They are "consumed with sharp distress," wondering why, while they toil, "all [other] things...have rest." After their journeys, they wonder why they cannot find peace, and conclude that "There is no joy but calm!"

    18. I

      The natural world is sweet, gentle, and sleepy. The wind blows the grass, eyelids grow heavy, and the moss slowly creeps.

    19. V

      Another swing of emotion, this time a dreamy and warm description of their drug-induced slumber. Their agitated comparison last stanza between dream and death has turned into a loving death wish: "How sweet it were...Falling asleep in a half-dream!"

    20. All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave In silence—ripen, fall, and cease: Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.

      The mariners wish to be like the juicy apple that fell from the tree in the last stanza. They wish for "long rest or...dark death, or dreamful ease." The dreamy state of the mariners has now turned to mournful comparisons to death, a stark contrast from the creative and peaceful capability described before.

    21. IV

      Another wild shift in tone from the last stanza. The "hateful dark-blue sky" and "dark-blue sea" are agitated like the mariners. They wish to be left alone.

    22. III

      The mariner's expressions of nature under the influence of the lotus. Here, they are no longer distressed, complacent in the passing of day to night. A leaf buds and then falls to the ground. A juicy apple over-ripens and falls from the branch.

    23. Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things?

      A reference to the mariner's involvement in the fall of Troy. The Trojan war was waged by the Greeks. Paris of Troy stole Helen away from the king of Sparta, Menelaus. The most famous account of this event was Homer's Iliad. The Odyssey takes place after these events, on the way home from war.

      The mariners question why only they are out doing the fighting for cities and kings.


      Up to this point, the poem has followed the events of Homer's Odyssey. Here, the poem shifts into a unified voice of the mariners, now experiencing the full effects of the lotus.

      The Choric Song consists of eight numbered stanzas, with differing experiences and emotions from each.

      This is where Tennyson plays with language and the senses to create a dizzying portrayal of the drugged mariners. Their wildly dichotomous emotions of apathy and euphoria mirror the struggle Victorian England was experiencing with opium (see: poppy annotation).

      Each stanza has its own annotation, summarizing the experience of the mariners.

    25. asphodel

      Asphodel is a genus of flower. Homer describes an asphodel field or meadow that grows in Elysium. The plant is known for its tall white and yellow flowers.


    26. acanthus-wreath

      Acanthus, commonly called bear's breeches, is a perennial with bold reddish-purple spikes and white snap-dragon-like flowers. It is commonly used as decoration (here, it is woven into a wreath) acanthus-wreath).

    27. moly

      An imaginary magical herb in book 10 of the Odyssey. When Odysseus's men are captured by Circe, Hermes aids the hero by giving him moly, which protected Odysseus against Circe's magic.

    28. amaranth

      A perennial family of plants. There are many references to this plant throughout Greek myths and Romantic poetry, including Coleridge and Percy Shelley. Here, the flower comes to represent an imaginary plant that never fades. Amaranth

    29. myrrh-bush

      Myrrh is a tree from which an aromatic resin is made.


    30. Fatherland

      Their home and life in Ithaca, here being remembered fondly. Later in the poem, they will revisit this thought, but with a different attitude.

    31. Between the sun and moon upon the shore

      As if they were experiencing both day and night simultaneously, indicative of the lotus's fantastical effects.

    32. And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake,        35 And music in his ears his beating heart did make.

      Here, this is a key effect of the lotus's effect on the user.

      He or she "seems" both awake and asleep and, under this influence, can hear his heart beat as if it were musical. This dazed state 'seems' to be producing a creative ability to hear music in a simple sound.

    33. Branches they bore of that enchanted stem, Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave To each, but whoso did receive of them        30 And taste, to him the gushing of the wave Far far away did seem to mourn and rave On alien shores

      From Homer's Odyssey Book IX:

      "Now whosoever of them did not eat the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no more wish to bring tidings nor to come back, but there he chose to abide with the lotus-eating men, ever feeding on the lotus, and forgetful of his homeward way."

      Just like the mariners in Homer's story, Tennyson's mariners also take in the lotus.

    34. Lotos-eaters

      The natives of the land come to the mariners, bearing lotus.

      What is the lotus of this story? Is it the flower that we would associate it with today?

      Authors during Homer's time used the term lotus to describe a number of different types of plants: the actual lotus (of which there are different types), jujube, as well as others.

      Alexander Pope investigated this same issue: "It has been a question whether it is an herb, a root, or a tree: [Eustathius] is of the opinion that Homer speaks of it as an herb...There is an Egyptian lotos, which, as Herodotus affirms, grows in great abundance along the Nile in the time of its inundations;...The Egyptians dry it in the sun, then take the pulp out of it, which grows like the head of a poppy and bake it like bread;this...agrees likewise" with Homer's description of the lotus.

      However, scholars during Pope's time (who Tennyson studied) took the classical works too literally, at times attempting to work with the texts as if they were fact(however it is interesting to note Pope's reference to poppy).

      More modern scholars have attempted to discover the answer to this question not by the physical description Homer gave, but by the euphoric characteristics of the plant. They note (as Pope knowingly or unknowingly also did) the similarities to opium (derived from poppy). It is possible that Homer had or heard of an experience with opium, but did not know what it was.

      Whatever the true origin of the lotus in this story, Tennyson recognizes the similarities it has with the opium of his day.

      Works cited: Pope, Alexander, and Maynard Mack. The Poems of Alexander Pope. London: Methuen, 1969. Print.

      Stevenson, Catherine Barnes. “The Shade of Homer Exorcises the Ghost of De Quincey: Tennyson's "the Lotos-eaters"”. Browning Institute Studies 10 (1982): 117–141.

    35. galingale

      A plant, known commonly now as galangal, similar to ginger, used in Indonesian and Asian cooking.


    36. copse

      A thicket of small trees or bushes. copse.

    37. Up-clomb

      Climbed up

    1. "Is it he?" quoth one, "is this the man?   By Him who died on cross, 400  With his cruel bow he laid full low   The harmless Albatross.

      One of the spirits discussing the Mariner.

      Throughout the poem, Coleridge plays with the word crossbow, the weapon the Mariner used to kill the Albatross.


      Coleridge breaks the word up here between two lines. "By Him who died on cross . . . With his cruel bow he laid full blow"

      This marks a direct comparison to the image of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.


      The phrase “cross to bear,” which means a difficult burden or trial, alludes to the cross carried by Jesus to his crucifixion. The Mariner too has a cross to bear, in the form of an albatross weighing him down by the neck. The difference here is that the Mariner, whether purposefully or not, is responsible for his own suffering.

      Works cited: "Cross to Bear." The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Christine Ammer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2013. Credo Reference. Web. 9 Oct 2015.

    2. The loud wind never reach'd the ship,   Yet now the ship moved on!   Beneath the lightning and the Moon 330  The dead men gave a groan.     They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,   Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;   It had been strange, even in a dream,   To have seen those dead men rise.
      In the lightning and moonlight, the dead bodies of the crewmen rise. Wordlessly and with dead eyes, they return to their positions aboard the ship and continue their duties. In modern terms, we would say that the crewmen turned into...
      If the Oxford English Dictionary is correct, Coleridge probably wasn't aware of this term; they attribute the first recorded use of the term 'Zombi' to Robert Southey's "History of Brazil" in 1819. The roots can be traced back to the Creole word 'zonbi,' a person reanimated but devoid of free will, typically due to witchcraft or voodoo. Southey uses the term to refer to the elected chief of the maroons in Pernambuco.
      Linda Troost, Professor of English and coordinator of the Professional Writing program at Washington and Jefferson College, instead traces the first printed use of zombie back further than Southey’s usage. In 1697, Pierre-Corneille Blessebois Le Zombi du grand Pérou, when a woman is tricked into thinking she’s an invisible spirit. She traces a definition more like our modern one to 1726, A History of the Voyages and Travels of Capt. Nathaniel Uring:
      “At the Death of a Person, it is customary for them to kill Hens, and sprinkle Blood both without and within-side the House . . . thereby they prevent the Spirit of the dead Person from coming to give Zumbi to any of the future inhabitants; the Word Zumbi signifies the Apparition of the dead Person, they being the Opinion to whomsoever it shall appear the Person will presently die.”
      Troost references two other examples of the term in English texts, a French translation of the French History of Okano in 1788 and a story in the European Magazine from 1799, both appearing before the OED’s listed 1819 Southey reference. With that insight, it is significantly more likely that Coleridge is aware of this reference.

      Works cited:

      Troost, Linda. "The Undead Eighteenth Century." The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer (March 2011): 1-11.

      "zombie, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2015. Web. 9 October 2015.

      "Zombie." The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters. Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock and Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2014. Credo Reference. Web. 9 Oct 2015.


  2. Nov 2015
  3. Oct 2015
    1.  'The ship was cheer'd, the harbour clear'd,   Merrily did we drop   Below the kirk, below the hill,   Below the lighthouse top.

      The Mariner begins his tale by describing the departure of his crew's ship, while those on the harbor cheered the seamen goodbye as they set sail.

      The ship is described as dropping below buildings of the town, including a kirk, or Scottish church. As the ship sails further from shore, it will appear to those on shore as if it is literally descending into the ocean. This action is ominous, foreshadowing the supernatural events that the Mariner will experience.

      Occasionally, throughout the poem, either the ship or forces (like the sun or wind) are described as either rising up or falling down, just like a ship rising and falling atop the ocean's waves.

    2.  Higher and higher every day,   Till over the mast at noon——'

      *In reference to an earlier annotation: Note the rising action of the sun the Mariner is describing before being interrupted by the wedding guest.

    3. An ancient Mariner meeteth three gallants bidden to a wedding feast, and detaineth one.

      The gloss, or text in the margins, here summarizes in plainer words the specifics of the first stanza.

      These annotations by Coleridge, which continue throughout the poem, were not in the original printing of the poem. This added level of clarification might be because of public reception and criticism. Many were critical of the initial printing for the obtuse and archaic spelling and language, including William Wordsworth. He wrote to Joseph Cottle in 1799, saying, "From what I can gather it seems that The Ancyent Marinere has, on the whole, been an injury to the volume ; I mean that the old words and the strangeness of it have deterred readers from going on. If the volume should come to a second edition, I would put in its place some little things which would be more likely to suit the common taste."

      Works cited:

      Wordsworth, William. "Believes the Ancient Mariner May Have Been a Detriment to the Sale of Lyrical Ballads." Letter to Joseph Cottle. 24 June 1799. Letters of the Wordsworth Family from 1787 to 1855. Collected and Edited by William Knight. Vol. 3. N.p.: Boston Gin, 1907. 364-65. Archive.org. Web. 4 Oct. 2015. https://archive.org/stream/lettersofwordswo03worduoft/lettersofwordswo03worduoft_djvu.txt

      *This is the hardest citation I have ever done; here is a direct link just in case: https://archive.org/details/lettersofwordswo03worduoft

      Click on 'Full Text' off to the side to view a plain text file.

    4. The Sun came up upon the left,  25  Out of the sea came he!   And he shone bright, and on the right   Went down into the sea.

      A poetic way to describe the ship's direction. Knowing that the sun rises due East and sets due West, one can discern that the sea vessel is traveling south.

    5. The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair weather, till it reached the Line.

      The Line refers to the equator. The equator is an imaginary line of latitude dividing the Earth into Northern and Southern hemispheres.

      Here, the gloss is providing clarification, making sure that the direction of the ship is clear ("the ship sailed southward").

      Works cited:

      Chesworth, Nancy. "Equator." The Encyclopedia of Tourism and Recreation in Marine Environments. Ed. Michael Luck. Oxford: CABI, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 4 Oct 2015.

    1. MentalTraveller13; E484|        She binds iron thorns around his head MentalTraveller14; E484|        She pierces both his hands & feet MentalTraveller15; E484|        She cuts his heart out at his side

      This describes the scene of a crucifixion. Groups such as the Persians, Jews, Carthaginians, and Romans practiced this form of capital punishment from around the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE.

      The process involves nailing or tying the subject to a wooden cross, usually shaped like a T.

      This punishment is commonly connected with the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Deemed a false Messiah by his fellow Jews, he was adorned with a crown of thorns and nailed to a cross by a nail through each hand, as well as one nail through the feet. He died, was buried, and, on the third day of his death, was miraculously resurrected back to life.

      Blake plays with this imagery as the man and woman in his poem transition again and again from young to old and old to young.

      Works cited: "Crucifixion." Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2014.Credo Reference. Web. 23 Sep 2015.

      "Crucifixion." The Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia University and Paul Lagasse. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Credo Reference. Web. 23 Sep 2015.

      "Crucifixion." The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Houghton Mifflin. E.D. Hirsch, JosephF. Kett, and JamesS. Trefil. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Credo Reference. Web. 23 Sep 2015.

  4. Sep 2015
    1. hieroglyphics older than the Nile

      The Egyptian hieroglyphic is an ancient type of pictographic language. While other styles of picture-based writing exist in the world (including parts of Asia and Mexico), Barbauld references the Nile, a river running through northeast Africa. This ties the reference specifically to Egypt.

      Hieroglyphics first appeared around 3110 to 2884 B.C. While the roughly 604-symbol language is almost entirely understood now, it was not translated when Barbauld wrote this poem in 1773.

      Barbauld references a, “master… whose hand with hieroglyphics older than the Nile,” referring to a creator being who wields a language even older than the ancient Egyptian’s then-yet-deciphered one.

      Interestingly, the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799, just 26 years after this poem was written. The Rosetta Stone provided Egyptologists Jean-Francois Champollion and Thomas Young with the key to deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphic.

      Works Cited:

      "Hieroglyphic." The Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia University and Paul Lagasse. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Credo Reference. Web. 23 Sep 2015.

      "Rosetta." The Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia University and Paul Lagasse. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Credo Reference. Web. 23 Sep 2015.