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Kubla Khan and It's Relationship to Romanticism

Uploaded by wchutlknbout on Apr 06, 2005

“Kubla Khan,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is one of the most enigmatic and ambiguous pieces of literature ever written. Allegedly written after a laudanum (an opiate) induced dream, the author claims to have been planning a two hundred to three hundred line poem before he got interrupted by a “man from Porlock,“ after which he had forgotten nearly all of his dream. This may have been merely an excuse, and the poem was scorned at the time for having no poetic value, one critic even going so far as to call it “more a musical composition than a poem.” This is partly true, as the language seems to strive for an aural beauty more than a literary beauty, although it accomplishes both. Like many great artists, Coleridge has been most appreciated after his death, when his radically different works could be justified, as the ideas presented in his works hadn’t been popular during his life. Coleridge’s philosophy in life was very romantic, and so nearly all of his poems exemplify the romantic ideal, especially Kubla Khan. This romantic poem uses brilliant imagery and metaphors to contrast the ideals of romantic paganism with often ingratious Christianity.

The vision of paganism is the first idea introduced in the poem. The super-natural reference to “Alph,” or Alpheus as it is historically known, “the sacred river, [which] ran/ Through caverns measureless to man/ Down to a sunless sea,” begins this pagan theme by referring to an underground river that passed through dimensions that could not be understood by any man, and then emptying into an underground sea. This also introduces an idea of the lack of human understanding that recurs at the end of the poem, one of the common elements that tie the poem’s seemingly two-part separate structure together. Xanadu’s walls enclosed “gardens bright with sinuous rills.” These gardens represent the Garden of Eden, or a natural paradise on Earth. The degree of nature in this paradise is such that, although it is a biblical reference, it is still connected to pagan and romantic ideals. The “sinuous rills” flowing through this garden can be taken as two different metaphors. The word “rills” can mean either a stream or a valley on the moon. The moon is seen as the source of all creativity in romantic idealism, and so...

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Uploaded by:   wchutlknbout

Date:   04/06/2005

Category:   Poetry

Length:   12 pages (2,640 words)

Views:   3788

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