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Kubla Khan: A Dream, Or Something Greater

2379 words - 10 pages

“A poet ought not to pick nature's pocket. Let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing. Examine nature accurately, but write from recollection, and trust more to the imagination than the memory.” Coleridge followed his own advice in the crafting of Kubla Khan; which presents his interpretation of the Kubla Khan court when under the influence of opiates. Due to the complexity of the poem, many have found that the poem lacks a true theme but instead focuses on “the nature and dialectical process of poetic creation.” Coleridge created a masterpiece by providing the readers room for personal interpretation but also a poem so well crafted that it illustrates the ...view middle of the document...

As he continued to write and draw upon the missing dream, he introduces his feelings of hope and yearning for the complete idea he'd had before. This makes the poem powerful because every reader can relate to the sense of loss when aroused from the middle of a dream.
Kubla Khan discusses the landscape around the “Pleasure-dome decree” and the longing he feels to return to it through his writing. Using imagery, and figurative language Coleridge illustrates the situation he experienced.
Within the first stanza of Kubla Khan, imagery of a “a sacred river” and “caverns measureless to man” begin by confusing the reader. This provides the platform that Coleridge hoped for. Just like any dream we experience, we begin by feeling lost and confused by the subject of the vision. This first stanza opens readers to the idea that the poem is deeper than a simple story line. The second stanza then brings images of “incense-bearing trees” and “sunny spots of greenery” providing feelings of protection. These mental pictures clarify that the dream is that of satisfaction. But just as readers picture a place of serenity, they are snapped into an atmosphere of violence. “Woman wailing,” “turmoil seething” and “ancestral voices prophesying war,” depict a sudden change within the situation. Reader's are thrown into a new world of aggression. The setting of the dream has suddenly morphed into something to be feared. A place we would avoid, instead of one we'd seek out for comfort. Finally, stanza four brings us full circle. Coleridge lost his vision, he has been forced to search the corners of his mind. “Shadow of dome decree” and “A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice,” produce illustrations of searching and the contrast of knowing verse lost. These images tell us that the dream has been misplaced, hidden in the depths of the speaker's mind, just like the dreams we experienced routinely.
Figurative language is crafted within the lines, granting readers the opportunity to make connections outside of the poem and relate them to the foreign experience of Coleridge's dream. It has been argued that Kubla Khan is an extended metaphor for a sexual experience. A critic, Mahar, believed that the “aphrodisiac quality” of opium was evident because of the “many allusions to sex and sexuality.” To enhance the readers ability to comprehend the situation, Coleridge used similes and metaphors within the poem's bigger metaphor- “fast thick pants were breathing” and “huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail.” Coleridge complies different forms of figurative language to make his point. It can be argued that the simile and metaphors used are meant to personify the environment in order to enhance the emotion felt within the dream or to personify the environment in order to clearly depict a stronger metaphor. These lines were so well written that they can be related to the idea of a violent environment experienced in a dream or that of a sexual experience shared between...

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