Imagery in Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge Review

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Imagery in Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge Review

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Poem Kubla Khan is written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In this poem, he illuminates Xanadu the palace of Kubla Khan, ran by a Mongol emperor. The speaker in the first stanza pictures the setting of the Emperor’s palace, which he mentions is a “pleasure-dome” that sounds biblical, spiritual, and mystical. It's also described as “a miracle of a rare device” because the dome was made “from the fountain and the caves” and “with caves of ice!” placed in a sunny area. He tells us about “the sacred river” which runs below the ground into the sea. He also mentions the blooming land that circles the palace, and how the neighboring area is camouflaged with river streams, a blossoming aroma of trees, and aged forests, which simplifies it as hidden and romantic.

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In the second stanza, the speaker gets a sensation about the river again and expresses his thoughts about a deep gorge, which the river flows through. He envisions it into an eerie, mysterious, haunted place where you potentially could find a “woman wailing for her demon-lover!. He describes how the river jumps and collides through the canyon, blasting up into a deafening fountain and then finally drowning and streaming through the buried caves into the ocean, far off. In the midst of this there is a warning sign on the horizon, he has heard the voices of his ancestors calling that time is close and that he should be content in aggressive wars.

Suddenly the speaker disperses away from this landscape and expresses another vision he’s had, where he has seen a woman an “Abyssinian maid” playing her “dulcimer” an instrument, and singing “singing of Mount Abora”. The speaker mentions “Could I revive within me/Her symphony and song”. This expresses the dominance of the young woman. The recollection of her song appeases him with a strong desire, and he pictures himself singing his own song, applying it to construct a vision of Xanadu. The speaker also suggests that the young woman’s song brought from her native land, Abyssinia and Mount Abora, this intel’s homesickness. This is because she had been brought from her country to an isolated land, China, and wanted to return home to play willingly, freely once more with other young women of her country. The speaker also wishes that he too, could also have the skills of a symphony and music like the young woman and that he would have built the pleasure-dome of Kubla Khan.

Coming toward the end of the poem, it develops into it being exceedingly personal and dark, as the speaker interprets past visions he has had. This results in him to a concluding image of a startling figure with “flashing eyes”. This person, Kubla Khan, is a ruling being who appears almost ‘god-like’: “For he on honey-dew hath fed/And drunk the milk of Paradise”.  

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