Abstract

The Indian banyan tree haunts Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christian-English identity. The strange appearance of this tree in his 1818 lecture and an unpublished poem has not received adequate consideration, for scholars interpret Romantic arboreal imagery as coextensive with the iconography of the oak, a symbol of England’s unreformed constitution, monarchical power, and customary rights. To correct this bias, I situate the poet’s national anxieties in the context of 1790s antiquarian, architectural, and aesthetic debates about the banyan and oak as sites of Indo-druidic human sacrifice. As a result, these terrifying tree-temples conjure an estranged Englishness symbolically registered in Coleridge’s writings.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 701-724
Launched on MUSE
2017-12-01
Open Access
No
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