Although their lives were filled with darkness and death, their love for stories and ideas led them into the bright realms of creative genius. They were the Brontes – Charlotte, Emily, and Anne – who lived with their brother Branwell in an unassuming 19th-century Yorkshire town called Haworth. Their house, a parsonage, sat on a hill, with the enticing but sometimes dangerous moors above and a cemetery, their father’s church, and the industrializing town below. It was a dark little home, with little more than a roof to keep out the rain, a fire to keep things warm at night, and books and periodicals arriving from Edinburgh and London to excite their imagination. And from this humble little town, these three sisters and their active, searching minds exerted an influence on English literature that can still be felt nearly two hundred years later.
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“Ashton Manor” and “Piano Between” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
In 1797, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge took two grains of opium and fell into a stupor. When he awoke, he had in his head the remnants of a marvelous dream, a vivid train of images of the Chinese emperor Kubla Khan and his summer palace, Xanadu. The vision transformed itself into lines of poetry, but as he started writing, he was interrupted by a Person from Porlock, who arrived at Coleridge’s cottage on business and stayed for an hour. when Coleridge returned to his work, the vision had been lost, and the fragmentary nature of the poem Kubla Khan has haunted its admirers ever since. The resentment has centered around the bumbling Person from Porlock, whose visit remains shrouded in mystery. The scholar Jonathan Livingston Lowes put it bluntly: “If there is any man in the history of literature who should e hanged, drawn, and quartered,” he wrote, “it is the man on business from Porlock.”
Who was this Person from Porlock, and why was he knocking on the door of Coleridge’s cottage? How did Coleridge handle the interruption, and what did it mean for him and his art? And finally, what might we take from this vivid legend today?
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“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).
“Piano Between” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0