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Analysis of Kubla Khan

By bdo20 May 11, 2008 782 Words
Analysis of Kubla Khan
The poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Coleridge describes images from the poet’s imagination. Using wide vocabulary to show images, the poet communicates to the reader the extent of his imagination. The language used throughout the poem describes these images in his dream. The location where Kubla Khan resides is an imaginary place known as Xanadu. The landscape surrounding Kubla's domain is wild and untamed. The first stanza describes the beauty and mystery of Xanadu with rich and exotic images. The poet says “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree:”(1-2). The first two lines talks about the “pleasure-dome” in Xanadu. This “pleasure-dome” was where he lived and ruled. “Where Alph, the sacred river ran / Through caverns measureless to man / Down to a sunless sea”(3-5). This talks about mystery of the area. Alph, first letter of the greek alphabet, being the name of the sacred river, running through endless caverns up to a mystery sea. The poet says where the river ends is a place of darkness and unknown. Lines 6-11 describe more of a paradise scenery. It gives a bright picture of the landscape and a range of colors are connected. “And there were gardens bright with sinous rills, / Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;”(7-8). Blossmed and bright giving color in the scenery. The second part shows the savage and violence of life outside of the “pleasure dome.” It describes nature and images of evil and war mixed together. “A savage place! As holy and enchanted”(14). The poet gives graphic descriptions of an eruption: “As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, / A mighty fountain momently was forced”(18-19). The poet describes the earth as an angry human breathing then goes on to say either water or magma is erupting from the earth. Seems like the land is going through a catastrophic state. The cause is unknown. “Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail”(21), meaning large rocks were hurled in the air as if something exploded. The next lines describe the first scenes of the poem going through the violence of the erupting earth: “And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever / It flung up momently the sacred river”(23-24). This probably means the rocks hurled in the air were by the sacred river Alph. “Five miles meandering with a mazy motion / Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, / Then reached the caverns measureless to man, / And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:”(25-28). The poet describes the violence of the earth moving through the sacred river then through the caverns probably in a zig zag motion or “labyrinth.” It then exits to the mysterious ocean (lifeless ocean). “And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far / Ancestral voices prophesying war!”(29-30). Kubla Khan hears from perhaps prophets or forecasters announcing war. The third part begins by a view of the river with the shadow of the pleasure dome showing some side of darkness or evil. “The shadow of the dome of pleasure / Floated midway on the waves;”(31-32). The poet describes what he sees as a miracle: “It was a miracle of rare device, / A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!”(35-36). In lines 37-41 the poet recalls a vision. More like a beautiful sight or a dreamlike image of a maid or unmarried woman with a dulcimer, folk instrument related to the guitar, “Singing of Mount Abora”(41). The final part Is when he wishes all the evil to go away. He wishes the first part of his vision to come back to his mind. “To such a deep delight ‘twould win me. / That with music loud and long”(44-45). This says he wants to hear the unmarried woman or maid he described before singing her song. “I would build that dome in air, / That sunny dome! Those caves of ice! / And all who heard should see them there”(46-48). Here the poet talks about an imaginative inspiration to rebuild what he had lost. The landscape of Xanadu, the dome and those caves would be built in air. The beautiful scenery he described in part one would come back. The process of "building" this paradise-like place would be accompanied by music the music of the damsel. “And all who heard should see them there, / And all should cry, Beware! Beware!”(49-50). The poet leaves this place open to all who heard and asks them to use their own imagination and see themselves there. The reaction he expects of them gives warning and fear. “Beware!”

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