Kubla Khan

Kubla Khan Poem Summary

About the poem Kubla Khan

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan is regarded as one of the greatest poems
  • According to Coleridge, it is a strange as well as a hallucinatory poem; he composed it shortly after waking up from an opium-influenced dream in the year of 1797
  • As far as the first part of this poem is concerned; here in it, its speaker envisions the landscape surrounding the Mongol ruler as well as Chinese emperor Kubla Khan’s summer palace “Xanadu”. He describes it as a place of (I) Beauty (II) Pleasure (III) Violence.
  • According to the speaker, the aforementioned qualities are all deeply intertwined; moreover, he is the last stanza, announces a likeness/wish to build a “pleasure palace” of his own through song
  • People interpret Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s popular/famous poem Kubla Khan in many or various ways
  • So, it can be said that though it is possible to consider it as speaking to the creative ambitions of poetry itself and to its limitations as well
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Kubla Khan Summary

The speaker of the poem considers the emperor Kubla Khan in a city which is known as Xanadu. The Mongolian leader orders his servants to construct an impressive or attractive building for (I) Pleasure and (II) Recreation, on the banks of the “sacred” river called Alph. The aforementioned river runs through a series of caves. They are quite vast that is why nobody is capable of measuring them, as well as then down to the underground ocean. 

Therefore, they create a space of ten miles of fertile earth. As far as this earth is concerned; it is surrounded by walls as well as towers. Moreover, there are gardens in it, with (I) Sunny Little Streams (II) Fragrant Trees (III) Quite Old Jungles with Sunny Clearings in the middle.

According to the speaker of the poem Kubla Khan, the deep and impressive gorge is very beautiful. It cuts through the green hill between the cedar trees. It is really a wild place. It is so holy as well as bewitching that one may expect it to be haunted by a woman crying out for her “demon-lover” beneath the crescent moon.

Moreover, out of the aforementioned gorge, with its infinitely churning river, a geyser will sometimes erupt, as if the ground itself is breathing hard. The geyser will send shards of rock flying into the air similar to the hail or like grain scattered as it is being harvested. Because of its flinging up the brief rocks, the geyser will (as well) briefly send the water of the sacred river bursting up into the air. 

The speaker of the poem Kubla Khan says that the sacred river runs five miles in an (I) Lazy (II) Winding Course through forests as well as fields before it reaches the incredibly deep caves as well as sinks in a flurry into an ocean which is comparatively still.

Moreover, Kubla Khan hears the voice of his ancestors. They predict that war will come. The waves reflect the shadow of his pleasure palace. In addition, one is/will be capable of hearing the sound of geyser(s) mingling with the water that rushes through the caves. It is of course a miraculous place. The pleasure palace of this Mongolian emperor is not only sunny but also equipped with icy caves.

Here, the speaker of Kubla Khan says that once in a vision, he saw an Ethiopian woman. She was playing a stringed instrument as well as singing about a mountain in the country (Ethiopia). He desires to recreate within himself the sound of her instrument as well as her song. It would bring him so much joy/happiness that he would build the pleasure palace of Kubla Khan in the heaven above him: (I) that the sun-filled dome, and (II) the caves full of ice. 

Moreover, every man who hears the song would look up as well as observe what Kubla Khan has built up. Moreover, they would cry out to (I) be careful/alert and look at his wild eyes as well as crazy hair (II) Make a circle around him three times as well as refuse to look at him: he has eaten the gods’ foods as drunk the milk of Heaven.

Summing Up Kubla Khan

  • The poem Kubla Khan brings its readers through the beautiful land of Xanadu through its lively description
  • Kubla Khan explores the theme of man along with nature
  •  Kubla Khan is a high poem that focuses on human beings as well as natural forces beautifully and impressively

What do you know about the pictorial quality of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan ?

Kubla Khan comprises a striking pictorial as well as descriptive quality. Some images of this poem are highly sensuous as well as suggestive; such as (I) The River (II) Fertile Ground and Chasm (III) Fountain & River (IV) Movement of the River (V) A Damsel with a Dulcimer as well as the Frenzy of the poet.

 What is the main idea or the theme of the poem Kubla Khan by S. T. Coleridge ?

(I) Pleasure & Violence (II) Creativity as well as Reason (III) The Limits of Creativity are the major theme(s) or idea(s) of Kubla Khan.

Why did S. T. Coleridge write or compose the popular poem Kubla Khan ?

The Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem Kubla Khan in the year of 1797. The poet fell into a reverie while/when he was reading a travel account. But, a man on business from Porlock interrupted his dream of exotic Orient.

What is the subtitle of the poem Kubla Khan ?

A Vision in a Dream is the subtitle of the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

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