Samuel Coleridge's poem “Kubla Khan” is an example of romantic creative thought which uses idealistic process to capture a dream of another world. Through the use of strong imagery, Coleridge produces a paradise like vision of a rich landscape, which is surrounded by a dome built by the main character named for the title, Kublah Khan. This alludes to an important aspect of the poems theme, man verses nature. The overriding theme of the work contains extensive imagery that allows for imagination to change the world in the face of conflict. Coleridge uses vocabulary based on contrast and rhythm for his alliteration and assonance, this paints a world where good and evil becomes easily identifiable. It is believed that, Coleridge was in a deep sleep induced by opiates when “Kublah Kan” was composed. Coleridge awoke from the dream that inspired the poem and began memorializing the dream, but he was interrupted at some point in his transcription. He then later forgot the rest of the dream, which is reflected towards the end of the work. Coleridge was a deeply religious man; therefore the poem is filled with references to God along with well-known religious metaphors. It is possible that the location of Xanadu (the main setting of the poem) is symbolic of the fabled Garden of Eden: lovely and innocent, yet surrounded by evil “A savage place”(14). Xanadu is further portrayed as a location that is under constant threat of destruction. The comparison to the Garden of Eden and the language used by the author are some examples of Coleridge’s many uses of symbolism. The religious theme continues throughout the poem; “cedarn cover! A savage place! as holy and enchanted” (13-14), which is a metaphor for God’s warning to Eve in the Book of Genesis as she fell for the serpent’s treacherous charm. Additionally, cedar trees represent healing, cleansing, and protection, which are all tenants of Christianity. Coleridge describes the river as “sacred” (24) on numerous...
Cited: Coleridge, Samuel. “Kubla Khan.” Introduction to Literature Sixth Edition. Ed. Dean Johnson. Boston, M.A.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. 496-498. Print.
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