What follows is a condensed version of a paper I read at the MLA Convention in Boston, January 2013. For questions and/or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
-Omar F. Miranda
In “Hymn to Surya” (1786), his song of praise to the Hindu sun god, William Jones depicts in part his scholarly endeavors in India during the 1780s. Learning Sanskrit and studying ancient texts, Jones posited that multiple Indo-European languages—including Greek, Latin, Persian, and Sanskrit—had one common origin. He also believed Indian civilization and thought were sources of the Egyptian and Greek culture to which Europe traced its own roots.
By composing original hymns to nine Hindu deities in English, Jones created an accessible version of Hindu mythology for Western audiences; he also left an indelible mark on comparative philology and advanced the knowledge of “literary and linguistic pluralism” (Cannon 133). In “Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures,” (2010) Aamir Mufti argues that Jones’s scholarship gave rise to an “emerging constellation of philological knowledge” (459). Jones influenced various scholars in India, Britain, Paris, and Germany, inspiring the “new [revolutionary] Orientalism” of the late eighteenth century by opening Europe up to a new world and India itself to historic traditions.
About a decade following the publication of Jones’s “Hymn to Surya,” Samuel Coleridge would produce the first version of his “opium-induced” Kubla Khan as a series of recitations he performed for his friends. While select criticism from the past century has explored the connections between Coleridge’s text and Jones’s Asian scholarship (including Garland Cannon’s study of the Hymn to Ganga” from the 1950s), no study has yet elaborated upon the text’s relation to the “Hymn to Surya” nor the numerous implications concerning Orientalist knowledge production and cultural diversity such an examination yields. I return to the Jones-Coleridge link by considering first the hitherto unexamined parallels between this text and Kubla Khan. Complicating the poem’s production history by challenging yet again Coleridge’s self-proclaimed notion that Kubla Khan came to him in a dream, the hymn serves as a blue print for a lot of the hybrid poem’s key thematic concerns and formal structures. It also offers additional clues perhaps that Coleridge was not only well acquainted with it but also inspired by it. More crucially, Jones’s “Hymn to Surya,” itself a fascinating though underexplored text, helps reformulate the way we think about knowledge production in Kubla Khan. It also enhances the current scholarship on the poem’s colonial valences and transcontinental landscape, matters that Nigel Leask has thoroughly explored even though he excludes William Jones from his analysis.
In addition to their intriguing associations, both poems depict the remediation of ancient material from which, I contend, a few payoffs emerge. First, even beyond the likely case that Coleridge was influenced by Jones and by the “Surya” hymn in particular, this connection implies that Coleridge participated in the Orientalist revolution that turned its attention to India because of Jones. Second, if we accept the “Hymn to Surya” as a partly autobiographical exploration of Jones’s scholarly activities in Calcutta, including the “reappropriation” of ancient Sanskrit texts through his own original compositions, then Kubla Khan appears all the more like a recovery project invested in a diachronic representation of past and present. Indeed, the “Kubla” poet attempts to “revive” a foregone Abyssinian maiden’s song through his visionary prowess, revealing the synesthetic and Orientalist translations I see directly linked to Jones’s poem. Moreover, both texts’ central concerns with origins and sources—caves and fountains— bespeak a larger Orientalist project of remediation and reappropriation. Such an endeavor not only uses poetry as its medium; it specifically designates poetry (as well as exposes each writer’s anxiety regarding print) as the auspicious channel for this cross-cultural distribution of knowledge. Third, if India indeed lurks in the background of Kubla Khan, as John Drew cogently argues in his India and the Romantic Imagination (1987), then the links to “Surya” further reinforce the poem’s Hindu influences as well as advance a non-essentialist view of India well beyond the subcontinent; this view of Kubla Khan reconceives Alph’s sacred “Eurocentrism,” rather, as an Eastern “fountain” of knowledge. By proposing a new historicist reading of Kubla Khan, furthermore, I intend to nuance the poem’s already diverse transcontinental landscape. Specifically, this claim relates to “Surya,” the great icon of the Majapahit empire that warred against the Mongol empire under the actual Kublai Khan. This analysis expands both texts’ idea of “India” as a region of various subcultures, the influence of Hinduism across the area, and the geographical and cultural diversity.
In the longer version of this paper, I structure my discussion into three parts. The first carefully details the hitherto unexamined parallels between the poems–including common tropes, images, and diction (which I will forego here). The second part sheds light on their shared emphasis on and consequences of origins, caves, and fountains. I, then, conclude by exploring the new historicist reading followed by the implications of this pairing for eighteenth century Orientalist studies.
. . .
Through my detailed analysis of these two texts, I attempt to make a big claim. I wish to show that “caves” and “fountains” operate as dominant metaphors in both poems as incongruous counterparts (like sun and ice, orient and occident, ancient and modern) that eventually coexist through each poem’s “mingled measure.” This harmonious reconciliation follows a diligent effort, however, a build up to each climactic moment that is symptomatic of the rigorous translational process carefully represented in each. Kubla Khan presents an initial barrage of discordant elements as the sacred river, Alph, runs its “mazy” course through the “measureless” caverns (ll. 3-4, my emphasis). This sequence begins with Kubla’s despotic “decree” in the second line, escalates with the woman’s “[wail] for her demon lover” and culminates with the explosion of “huge” terrestrial fragments from the earth’s erupting fountain (ll. 16/20-21). The dissonance intensifies the poem’s climactic shift to song, resembling the opening structure in Jones’s hymn where the poet meets the “silence” of uncooperative Hindu gods who resist praising Surya (l. 8). Attempting to “sing” about the Sun’s powers through an Vedic “Brahman strain,” Jones initially fails to generate a communal composition; instead, the moon “deserts” the already-lulled, “silent” sky and the other Hindu spirits “hear not” his “pray’r” to the Sun; “Indra with his heavenly bands,” for instance, “nor sings nor understands” as Jones feels consigned to “a passing dream” (ll. 13-17/l. 28).
But the hymn’s celestial silence ultimately inspires the production of song and light through the poet’s “bursting” decree, a synesthetic portrayal paralleling Kubla Khan’s final section where the poet attempts to “revive” the Abyssinian maid’s song through vision. As the “Kubla” poet tries to enact his poetic powers so that “with music loud and long, [he] would build that dome in air,” [that sunny dome, those caves of ice] the lyric’s music inspires the visual qualities as “all who heard should see them there” (my emphasis). Here the aural enables the visual: music helps create the intangible dome as “hearing” permits “seeing” through the poets desire to sustain his “mingled measure” vision.
A similar synesthetic portrayal appears in Jones’s hymn. Placing his “passing dream” aside, Jones enjoins the gods to partake of his convocative praise to Surya, a trans-cultural triumph to which the poet alone gives life:
Burst into song, ye spheres;
A greater light proclaim,
And hymn, concentric orbs, with sev’nfold chime
The God with many a name;
Nor let unhallow’d ears
Drink life and rapture from your charm sublime (ll. 35-40)
Limiting the “drinking” of “life and rapture” to “hallow’d ears,” Jones demands that the spheres “burst into song” and thus “proclaim” a “greater light;” The hymn’s “spheres,” celestial bodies such as the earth, sun, and moon, unite “concentrically” and radiate “greater light” through an aural medium, mirroring the “sunny dome” that floats “in air” as a spectacular musical achievement. The sudden “burst” of music, as it were, sparks the multi-sensorial effect resembling not only the fusion of Vedic and English lyric traditions but also the “burst” of “rebounding hail” abruptly discharged by Kubla Khan’s fountain source. The entranced poet feeds on “honey dew” and drinks the “milk of Paradise” to “build” the images that his auditors can now see—resembling Jones’s references to imbibing Amrita and Soma, the mythological nectars of immortality (ll. 46-48). Both poets reproduce an ethos of visual and aural stimuli in which the recreated aural domain gives rise to the reimagined visual “sphere.”
The textual climaxes thus bring about the harmony of synchronized caves and fountains springing forth knowledge from east to west. Jones sings Surya’s praises as the non-Brahman hymnodist from the “bosom of yon silver isle” who “pours . . . orient knowledge from its fountains pure/ through caves obstructed long” that he, in fact, “lisps.” His rigorous efforts in India bring him to the “obstructed caves” of pure knowledge, a rediscovery marking his crowning achievement. It is the translational work (across time and cultures) that constitutes the “pouring,” the flows and overflows worked out through his various levels of mediation including his translation from Sanskrit to English by way of Latin.
In Coleridge’s third stanza, the opening discord also shifts to a mellifluous apex with its alliterative countersigning: unlike forces converge to create a musical melody, a “mingled measure” that is “miraculous.” The text’s sinewy and tumultuous trajectory—well emblematized by Alph’s path—leads to the coexistence of caves and fountains. Reversing the “measureless caverns” and “obstructed caves,” both writers attempt to remediate ancient cultural material—Sanskritic and Abyssinian alike—from “obscure paths” cast off by temporal and linguistic barriers. Jones portrays the image of pure ancient “Eastern” knowledge carried across one solid and fluid “path” that “caves” now enable rather than impede. Both poets bring their respective “fountains” and “caves” together in one act of “mingled measure:” a reproduction wherein music and visuality serve one dominant impression aimed at recovering their respective “ancestral voices.”
. . .
I now turn my attention briefly to another connection between “Surya” and Kubla Khan: the Majapahit empire, the last “Indianized” kingdom in Indonesia that adopted the sun, the Surya Majapahit, as its primary icon. Based in eastern Java, the empire flourished between the 13th and 16th centuries. In 1292, Mongol troops arrived in Java to avenge an insult to its emperor, Kublai Khan. In the end, the Mongol army was defeated and expelled from Java.
Locating the poem within the encounter between two medieval imperial cultures by way of Jones, this analysis further historicizes the poetic subject matter of Coleridge’s text by broadening the geographic landscape that Leask has scrutinized and accounting for its expansive Hindu influence. Though my proposal requires additional research to prove Coleridge would have known about this culture, the identification of particular Asian cultures appears specifically in Samuel Purchas’s seventeenth century Pilgrimage, one of Coleridge’s source texts. My hypothesis also informs anew the “ancestral voices prophesying war” that Kubla hears from the bursting “tumult,” revealing the historicity of two warring empires during the actual Kublai Khan’s reign. It details the text’s historiographical specificity within imperial history by detailing an “oriental” colonial world through the lens of an emerging British colonial authority; it also encapsulates some of the poems’ major concerns about reanimating and sustaining “ancestral voices” for a modern era within a distinct cultural context.
I conclude by exploring Jones’s representation of Surya himself, the sun, as the “one Eternal mind,” an ineffable and “effulgent whole” symbolizing caverns of “orient” knowledge and Jones’s own pursuits. As the “fountain of living light,” the sun becomes a metaphor for the problematic Orientalist flow of Eastern knowledge (l. 1/l.186/l.18, my emphasis). Though the “rich and regal [sun] in his orient state” radiantly “sings” and “rises” as the one “daystar,” the inflamed “red east” emits “insufferable light” (ll. 157-158). Surya, however, becomes more “sufferable” as the sun approaches his “graceful” western setting: “What majesty, what grace/ Dart[ing] o’er the western meads” (ll. 157-158). The charting of Orientalist knowledge flows echo the sun’s diurnal trajectory from east to west: from a path “too long obscured” to an accessibly flowing fountain regenerated for Western consumption. The sun’s path, in other words, mirrors Jones’s remediation from east to west and adaptation of the “rich and regal” Oriental data (l. 102). In this sense, ancient eastern knowledge is transmitted cross-culturally from east to west and cross-temporally from past to present. The “insufferable” bifurcated model of occidental and oriental knowledge structures appears to collapse as a result of this fluid process.
But Jones’s catalog description of Surya’s beams seem to suggest that the knowledge production process requires assiduous and meticulous efforts:
[Surya’s] swift and subtil beams,
Eluding mortal sight,
Pervade, attract, sustain th’ effulgent whole,
Unite, impel, dilate, calcine,
Give to gold its weight and blaze
Dart from the diamond many-tinted rays,
Condense, Protrude, transform, concoct, refine (ll. 6 – 12, my emphasis)
The lines link the effect of Surya’s rays to Jones’s Orientalist scholarship and editorial process: as multiple functions through its mediated capacity to “sustain” what I read as “th’effulgent whole” of Sanskrit literature to a manageable and accessible compendium. This extensive list of actions invites Jones’s readers to his editorial process and prowess as the cross-cultural information gatherer and sharer between India and Europe.
If the sun serves as a metaphor for colonial knowledge production and Alph itself is regarded as a common source of ancient knowledge traveling from Asia to Africa, then both works are implicated in the recovery of ancient lore reconceptualized impurely via poetry. This complicated approach could presumably yield two distinct interpretations. On the one hand, we could read into the pro-imperial valences, the Khan’s emphasis on materiality, as a reappropriation of the Western imperial project of conquest while Jones advances the intermingled nature of colonial rule. On the other hand, Kubla Khan could serve as a critique of colonial expansion given, for example, the earth’s resistance to the imperial palace and garden, as the poem’s statement on the evanescence of materiality and the unnatural “construction” of colonialism and despotism. In this sense, Kubla Khan responds directly against Jones’s colonial project and reappropriation of Hindu mythology, embracing an imaginative and transcendent alternative.
As I have tried to make clear, it is the fluidity of impure knowledge from stagnant caves to prolifically springing fountains in Jones’s “Hymn to Surya” that have inspired my new reading of Kubla Khan. Less a cultural exchange than a unidirectional diffusion from east to west, the various strata of mediation involve a reconceived product sustained primarily through its poetic form. Each text’s rehabilitative attempt convokes various traditions and landscapes that infuse its revival with an Orientalist verve that Jones helped initiate. Even though this joint analysis requires further reckoning, and my reading now joins the other multiple analyses of Coleridge’s famous vision, I contend that my view radically alters the fragment’s textual and contextual implications and reignites scholarly attention to both Jones’s neglected “Hymn to Surya” and its generative pairing with Kubla Khan.
“amrita.” Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, Thames & Hudson. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002. Credo Reference. Web. 11 December 2011.
Cannon, Garland H. “A New Probable Source for ‘Kubla Khan’.” College English 17.3 (1955): 136-142.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Coleridge’s Poetry and Prose: A Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Nicholas Halmi, Paul Magnuson and Raimonda Modiano. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
Drew, John. India and the Romantic Imagination. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Jones, William. The works of Sir William Jones [electronic resource] : In six volumes printed for G. G. and J. Robinson; and R. H. Evans (successor to Mr. Edwards), London : 1799
Khan, Jalal Uddin. “Shelley’s Orientalia: Indian Elements in his Poetry.” Atlantis. Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies 30.1 (2008): 35-51.
Leask, Nigel. “‘Kubla Khan’ and Orientalism:The Road to Xanadu Revisited.” Romanticism 4.1 (1998): 1-21.
Lowes, John Livingston. The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of Imagination. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1927.
“measure, n.”. OED Online. September 2011. Oxford University Press. 6 December 2011 <http://oed.com/view/Entry/115506?rskey=bI8C0q&result=1&isAdvanced=false>.
Ober, Warren U. “Southey, Coleridge, and “Kubla Khan”.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 58.3 (1959): 414-422.
“rude, adj. and adv.”. OED Online. September 2011. Oxford University Press. 3 December 2011 <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/168501?rskey=O7dDN3&result=3&isAdvanced=false>
 The discovered “Crewe manuscript” survives as the text’s only extant version from the 1790s.
 Garland Cannon’s “A New Probable Source for ‘Kubla Khan’” (1955) offers compelling evidence linking the poem’s structure, images, diction, and syntax to Jones’s “Hymn to Ganga,” a text honoring the sacred Ganges deity that Cannon connects to Coleridge’s depiction of Alph. In “Southey, Coleridge, and ‘Kubla Khan’” (1959), Warren Ober extends Cannon’s conclusions by tracing additional connections to Jones’s “The Palace of Fortune” and to Robert Southey’s Common-Place Book. Southey cites Jones numerous times, convincing Ober that Coleridge’s unconscious “vision in a dream,” described in his 1816 Preface, was a “hoax, albeit a harmless one” (414). Despite not mentioning Jones as a possible source in his famous The Road to Xanadu (1927), John Livingston Lowes suggests that the poem’s two central images—the sunny pleasure dome and the caves of ice—“are immediately determined by [François] Bernier’s description of Kashmir” (qtd in Drew 201). Nevertheless, Lowes refrains from analyzing this evident association with India, a subject that consumed Jones’s studies for over the last decade of his life. Finally, in India and the Romantic Imagination (1987), John Drew devotes a whole chapter to “Kubla Khan,” arguing that renewed British interest in India at the end of the eighteenth century “made possible the [poem’s] mystical spirit as well as [its] Oriental location” (227). Though Drew admits that Coleridge avoids mentioning India in his poem, he insists the implicit link remains dominant.
 Jalal Uddin Khan’s “Shelley’s Orientalia: Indian Elements in his Poetry” vaguely connects Coleridge and the caves of the “Hymn to Surya”: “Jones’s imagery of the caves as when in the Hymn to Surya he says the sun-god Surya ‘Draws orient knowledge from its fountains pure,/ Through caves obstructed long and paths too long obscure” . . . is very common in Shelley and Coleridge, who use it to suggest the sources of metaphysical speculations and transcendent love” (46). He offers no further analysis. Drew also overlooks the “Hymn to Surya” throughout his whole book—even in his chapter on Jones. The only exception is an epigraph to his Jones chapter that quotes perhaps the most cited passage from the “Hymn to Surya” about Jones’s orient knowledge production; I will not only cite this passage but use it as the most convincing tie between the two texts.
 I am treating this short paper as the initial phase of a future extended project. Drew focuses a lot of his energies explaining the important connections between Coleridge and Indian sources. He claims: “All we can fairly conclude about Coleridge at this point is that he could hardly avoid taking an intelligent interest in the Orientalism of the 1790s, that his Orientalism, largely under the aegis of Jones, centred on India, and that the new knowledge of ancient Indian culture was used to speculate about man’s origins and the single primaeval source of his civilization” (206). As I suggest in my paper, I would be interested in analyzing the significance of these connections later in further detail.
 The exact time of Coleridge’s first creation of “Kubla Khan” has been debated, but scholars generally consider it some time between 1797 and 1800. Its first official publication occurred in 1816 with the infamous Preface and appeared alongside Christabel and “The Pains of Sleep.” Some modifications exist between the Crewe manuscript, the first known version of Coleridge’s text, and the later version, but none of these alterations greatly affect my discussion. I do shed light on the change from Mt. Amara (1797?) to Mt. Abora (1816), but I will not be finicky about the versions I examine because of my interest in the poetic text independent of the Preface.
 I am using the OED definition of “measure” as “metrical or rhythmical sound or movement” or “an air, tune, or melody”. However, another way of interpreting “measureless,” in line with more conventional readings, connects it to proportions beyond human comprehension. Additionally, I am limiting my analysis (for now) to the poem’s content and refraining from an investigation of its rhythm and meter.
 In the extended version of this paper, I will consider the specific and multiple layers of mediation and their significance to Jones’s project and, by extension, to Coleridge’s poem. For now, I will share that, at minimum, I would need to analyze the implications of Jones’s translations from sacred Sanskrit text to Latin and then to English (taken from course notes with Kevin Brine) as well as the shift from one generic tradition to a novel blend of generic forms. Jones cites multiple English poets as his rhythmic inspirations for his hymns; this would also require some analysis.
 According to the early Vedas, Indra is the king of the gods in Hindu mythology (Jones’s “Hymn to Indra”).
 Arguing that Kubla Khan makes an historic shift from despot to spiritual leader, John Drew claims: “The historical Kublai may have tried to make that transition from imperial to spiritual power which his namesake in the poem apparently aspires to make” (211). Drew reads the emperor figure, Kublai Khan, as an ascetic Hindu mystic: “According to this reading the Abyssinian maid is just such an appearance of the goddess, who is no longer a river running away through the valley to be lost underground but a call to return to the holy mountain (Abora) where active energies are properly reabsorbed and concentrated in the passive. The emperor Kubla, like Samdhimati, has aspired to be an ascetic and . . . Possibly, like Buddha himself, Kubla moves into a third condition beyond those of emperor or ascetic where images of dome and cave are alike transcended and—activity resolved in passivity, action in contemplation, actual in potential—the mystic builds indestructibly, because intangibly, ‘in air’” (222). In my extended version of this paper, I would foreground Drew’s well-argued claim directly into my discussion.
 Though I do discuss the connections between Alph and the flow of “orient knowledge” in my conclusion, I anticipate a nuanced examination of this relation in the next version of my paper.
 When Jones founded the Asiatick Society of Bengal, he worked assiduously to uncover the common origins of human kind. In his argument to the “Hymn to Surya,” he describes the deification and worship of the sun as “account[ing] for nearly the whole system of Egyptian, Indian, and Grecian polytheism.” The Sun perhaps functions as a metaphorical gesture of Jones’s impulse to find the Indo-European common origin across cultures and time. For Jones, the Christian, Hindu, Greek, and Egyptian pantheons emanated from one true religion—as he states in his argument; he believed that the post-diluvian resettlement (i.e., after Noah’s flood) occurred in Persia/Iran, and that this common linguistic identity that all human kind shares eventually branched out into three distinct divisions (Jones’s Ninth Discourse). Likewise, “Kubla Khan” seems to be interested in common sources. Its river Alph, whose name refers to origins and traces its source to Ancient Greek civilization, and the “mighty fountain” serve as a source (see Ovid). Additionally, the broad geographical landscape that Coleridge produces from the Far East to the Near East, Tartary to Abyssinia is reminiscent of the spatial historical conversations and the origin or “mighty fountain” of knowledge that Jones heavily considered.
 The extended version of this essay will address the connections between these lines and knowledge production more in depth.
 This recovery of sources also relates not only to the “Kubla Khan” text but to the context of Coleridge’s dubious creation of it as well. The many layers of creation, recreation, and source texts would certainly add to this already fascinating discussion. I would include this expansion in my next version.