The Poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coloridge Essay

The Poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coloridge Essay

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Coleridge successfully illustrates the qualities of imagination in his poem, Kubla Khan, through the sound of words, the creative content and his ability to create and recreate. Coleridge turns the words of the poem into a system of symbols that are suspended in the reader’s mind. Coleridge uses creative powers to establish the infinite I AM, a quality of the primary imagination. Coleridge mirrors his primary and secondary imagination in the poem by taking apart and recreating images. The qualities of imagination discussed in the poem exist independently but also work together to create an imaginative world. It is important to understand how the poem works to achieve these qualities, but also how the poem works to bring the reader back to reality. The powers and qualities of imagination are present in Kubla Khan and it is through Coleridge’s extraordinary writing that the reader is able to experience an imaginative world, in which we alternate between reality and imagination.
Through alliteration and imagery, Coleridge turns the words of the poem into a system of symbols that become unfixed to the reader. Coleridge uses alliteration throughout the poem, in which the reader “hovers” between imagination and reality. As the reader moves through the poem, they feel as if they are traveling along a river, “five miles meandering with a mazy motion” (25). The words become a symbol of a slow moving river and as the reader travels along the river, they are also traveling through each stanza. This creates a scene that the viewer can turn words into symbols while in reality they are just reading text. Coleridge is also able to illustrate a suspension of the mind through imagery; done so by producing images that are unfixed to the r...


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...ridge’s longing brings the reader back to reality, in which we see real emotions at play. Another way the final stanza portrays reality is the use of the word “I.” The first three stanzas are in third person, but the last stanza is in first person. Coleridge is describing “Paradise” but transitions to seeing:
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw: (...)
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air, (37-46).
“Xanadu” is a wonderful “Paradise” of fantasy, but Coleridge draws the readers back to reality with the word “I.” He immediately transitions from describing visionary objects to explaining his own poetic challenge. The “pleasure-dome” mirrors the poem and Kubla Khan mirrors Coleridge. The poem ultimately becomes a “vision in a dream,” where the reader recognizes the images that Coleridge recreates through imagination.

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