Last night Nik and I came up with a tagline for Song of Roland: "Women and men who hate each other... and themselves!"
The older Coleridge became, the heavier he used opium. It was a habit he could not shake, and a never-ceasing source of misery, both physical and spiritual. His nightmares became more frequent, more severe. He felt himself approaching madness. One of his letter to Dr. James Gillman, a physician and friend, was a heart-rending plea for help in escaping from "the terror that haunts my mind." The final eighteen years of his sad, slovenly life were spent in Dr. Gillman's home, at Highgate, where his opium doses could be carefully kept to a minimum.
It was at Highgate that "Christabel" and "Kubla Khan" (the first started and the second completed back in his Stowey period) were first published. The thin volume also included his poem "Pains of Sleep," in which he speaks of waking up screaming from a "fiendish dream," weeping, wondering why such sufferings had come to him. The poem closes with these pathetic lines:
To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love, indeed.
Martin Gardner, The Annotated Ancient Mariner
It were best, I think, to be a bryozoan. No need for motion beyond the waving of cilia, no social impulse beyond the slow assemblage of intricate patterns from one's own body, the nagging urge toward propagation of the species painlessly satisfied from time to time through budding. Kind of like the carnivorous lichen in Interstellar Pig.