The Poem Kubla Khan By Samuel Taylor Coloridge

958 words - 4 pages

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 reader. The words in the poem become images in our mind because Coleridge personifies dreamlike and foreign images. When reading of fantastic images, readers can see “gardens bright” (8); they can feel “sinuous rills” (9) and even smell “an incense-bearing tree” (line 10). All of these esemplastic images of landscape, presented through alliteration and imagery, appeal to the senses and are symbolic sources of poetic imagination.
Coleridge establishes the infinite I AM, by assigning meaning to objects. Primary imagination is the means of all human perception. Coleridge also said it is the repetition of the fixed mind of creation in "the infinite I AM." Our existence is a finite expression reflected and repeated in the poem. Coleridge assigns meaning in his poem through metaphor. These meanings establish a relationship between the world and us. Looking at the creative content of Kubla Khan “Where Alph, the sacred river, ran” (3) until “A mighty fountain momently was forced,” (line 19) represent vital images, constantly working the mind that destroy and reshape these very images. The “stately pleasure dome” (2), also a vital element in the poem, encompasses the bursting fountain and...

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