Kubla Khan Analysis

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“Talk about the poem, ‘Kubla Khan’, your opinions of the poem, which part you thought were interesting. Use quotes.” (600~ words)

Kubla Khan is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, supposedly under the influence of opium. The effects of the drug on Coleridge are somewhat reflected in the description of Xanadu (inside the dome). He portrays an area which appears to be tranquil and serene, typical of a drug-induced sensation. Even though the poem doesn’t convey a direct message, its beautiful and multifarious use of language is enough to entice readers.

This area is described as being inside a “pleasure dome”. The form of the dome creates an impression of sublimity due to its spherical shape. “Alph, the sacred river” seems to guide you throughout the inside of the dome. Also, it may not be coincidental that Coleridge picked ‘Alph’ as the river’s name – it may represent the first letter of the greek letter (Alpha), which symbolises the Beginning; the cradle of mankind. Coleridge uses words which invoke a picturesque description of the dome: words such as ‘incense-bearing’, ‘bright’ and ‘sinuous’ serve as visual, tactile and smell stimuli. The use of enjambment when describing the scenery slows down the pace of the reading, further emphasizing the placidity of the dome. The full stop at “enfolding sunny spots of greenery.” puts an end to the pleasant description, as if something dark lurks beneath it. Suddenly, the reader is warned of what is to come and the ‘But oh!’ implies an element of surprise as the dome’s darker side is revealed. Words such as ‘savage’ and ‘demon’ give it a sinister and uncontrollable tone, emphasized by the chasm; which is dark and ‘deep’. The use of exclamation marks and short sentences speeds up the pace of the poem.

Many lines of the poem have potential sexual connotations – the ‘deep romantic chasm’ may refer to a woman’s private parts, whilst lines such as ‘ceaseless turmoil’ and ‘fast thick pants’...
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