Prior to diving into the text, some background information is required to grasp the conditions under which Coleridge created “Kubla Khan.” As self-described in the Preface with the publication of his 1816 edition poem, Coleridge was under the influence of medication when he fell asleep, and had a vision that ensured he “could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines.” When he awoke and began to record his work, he was interrupted and upon return, could not remember the remainder, resulting in a failure for completion. Thus the inclusion of “A Fragment” in the title. There seems to be disagreement within the Romantic poetry community about whether or not the recorded lines stand on their own or read as incomplete. It seems as though it is up to each reader to decide for themselves.
The first two lines relate to the reader a character, setting, and situation. Kubla Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, is set as the initial character. He was the emperor of the Mongols in China during the thirteenth century A.D., and symbolized vast riches and secrecy to most Europ...
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...characterized by just one pattern, but that continual changing between tetrameter and pentameter is a reminder of that imperfect union of the wilderness and humanity.
Coleridge’s “psychological curiosity” served to produce a fascinating journey into the associations of people and their surroundings. It cannot be lost however, that some writing is meant simply to entertain, to dazzle readers with stunning literary techniques and incredible depths of meaning. “Kubla Khan” will be talked about for centuries to come because every time it is read, a new meaning or understanding of its ambiguity stands out. In the end though, the central theme to be taken away must be that while nature and human beings can mutually interact for a time, the unity will eventually be disturbed. Nature is “measureless” and endures, people will always find a way to drown into the “sunless sea”.
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