(Poem #361) Cologne
In Kohln, a town of monks and bones, And pavements fang'd with murderous stones And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches; I counted two and seventy stenches, All well defined, and several stinks! Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks, The river Rhine, it is well known, Doth wash your city of Cologne; But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?
This is Coleridge in a vitriolic mood; one would hardly imagine the writer of these lines to be the same person who gave us "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea." The first five lines of 'Kublai Khan' are, as I've mentioned elsewhere, possibly my favourite lines anywhere in the canon of English poetry. But to tell the truth, I like 'Cologne' almost as much. thomas. PS. From Merriam-Webster online: Main Entry: co.logne Pronunciation: k&-'lOn Etymology: Cologne, Germany Date: 1814 1 : a perfumed liquid composed of alcohol and fragrant oils -- www.m-w.com Oh, the irony! [Links] 'Kublai Khan' was one of the earliest poems to be run on the Minstrels; you can read it at poem #12 Another beautiful piece of verse invective is Patrick O'Reilly's 'Litany for Doneraile', at poem #266 while Carl Sandburg's 'Chicago' is an example of just the opposite, the poetic glorification of a city: poem #5