Kubla Khan

Samuel Taylor Coleridge set out to write a poem describing an opium-induced dream he had, the result was Kubla Khan. Kubla Khan is a very mysterious poem; it describes a world not like any humans have ever known. A world where its hard to tell whether it’s a place of beauty, full of calm and goodness, or whether it’s a dark an sinister strange land. This poem shows the process of describing a dream on paper, something that is impossible to do, a lot like any creative process towards the middle and the end, the idea gets fuzzier and ultimately takes its own completely different form.

The poem Kubla Khan first stanza is like a children’s story that’s been told over a million times before, where, there is no question of what the story is about. Coleridge describes Xanadu as if he had been there, and even though this world is nothing like are own, he describes it as if it were nothing surprising. He states the name of the sacred river, Alpha that flows through it, as if he’d visited it everyday after work to enjoy the weather. In the first stanza he appears to be entirely confident of this beautiful place that he describes. In the second stanza he writes “And here were forests ancient as the hills” as if this place he described was as clear as day to him, and as if this land was stable, calm and never changing. In the first two stanzas his sentences run smoothly and are short and conscious, giving the feeling of tranquility and assuredness.

In the third stanza things begin to change, as a women shouts for her demon lover; the sentences begin to grow increasingly larger, as if things are out of control, as if Coleridge had to keep writing before he forgot the story he had previously known so well.

The third stanza runs by you quickly, reading it almost becomes a task of finding a place to stop and think of the action that had just passed, but you can’t because right as you try another action goes whizzing by. Reading this stanza is like trying to keep up with Coleridge in a race. This stanza is almost like Coleridge has got his dream in his head, its fully clear to him but the more he rights, trying to chase his dream, the more it fades so he in turn writes faster, but the faster he writes the faster the dream becomes hazy again.

He describes scene after scene, first with the forming of a Fountain, and then he describes images of falling rocks and finally the path of the river alpha to the colorless sea passing by “wood and dale”. The next thing you know ancestral voices are prophesizing war, though were not informed on who, or any other information concerning this event.

In the next couple of stanzas Coleridge changes pace once again, and goes back to a more peaceful great place, as if forgetting fully about the previous event. When the poem is read, you think that after your told about the ancestral voices prophesizing war, that this will be the mood and direction the poem is going to in the next couple of stanzas, but in fact the truth is the opposite. Coleridge reverts back to a peace full serene place where a woman sings and for the first time Coleridge uses the first person. The person speaking, talks of the women’s singing as if it’s calling him and he gets lost in the song. When you finally adjust to this pace, in the middle of one of these peaceful sentence he writes “beware beware” and all of a sudden a man with wild eyes and floating hair is described. From out of nowhere this man comes and drinks the honeydew and sucks the paradise out of the place. It comes a shock and is rather frightening when you read this stanza because he sets the mood and then it all of a sudden drastically changes and your never quite sure what’s going on, and the author makes no attempt to explain as he rushes threw these turn of events. Like in earlier stanzas, his sentences become extremely long, as if he was afraid of loosing this perfect idea that he had on his head, as if he was driven to get it out on paper before it vanished from his memory as dreams often do.

Though the author was not fully successful in writing down this idea that made perfect sense in his head, it is still a great piece of literature, and because of the fact that it wasn’t the way he envisioned it. It goes as a lesson for all artists and creators of anything, that it is impossible for things to come out the way you saw them in your head and that, this is a large part of the creative process. People should embrace it, instead of struggling to make something exactly as one saw it and just let it take its own form, which is a truer form than trying to force art.

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