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Commentary on Kubla Khan

By sheacloes Nov 19, 2013 408 Words
The poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge takes its reader on a journey of unexpected rhyme schemes and odd syllabic patterns which add to the abstract and unfocused story line throughout this entire poem.

This poem is made up of several two-syllable units, in which the stress is placed on the second syllable:
“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran”.

In the short lines at the beginning of the poem, the line length is represented by four beats. During these seven lines, where the line length is continually the same, the poem stays along the same idea; a quick overview, describing the rushing of a river to the sea. Then, as the poem slows down, the lines get longer too, changing to a five beat line length, and as we wind along those "sinuous rills," we start to feel the poem meandering a little too. When the setting changes in line 31 and the poem shifts gears, the lines get shorter again, back to the four beat line length, picking up the pace of the poem once again. The line length and beats in each line are constantly changing to keep up with the abstract, various ideas the poem withholds.

The rhyme is not regular either. It has an alternating rhyme scheme in each stanza. Stanza one has a rhyme scheme of ABAABCCDEDE, stanza two has a rhyme scheme of ABAABCCDDFFGGHIIHJJ, stanza three has a rhyme scheme of ABABCC, and stanza four has a rhyme scheme of ABCCBDEDEFGFFFGHHG. The poem often loops back and picks up a rhyme that has not been used in a while, creating a kind of echo in the poem. The rhyme throughout this poem is reflective of this distorted, odd description that the poet has entailed throughout the poem. He creates a strange rhyme scheme so that certain parts of the poem fit together in an unexpected way:

“A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision I once saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora”.

There is also internal rhyme within the poem:
“So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing
Floated midway on the waves”.

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