Transcript Kubla Khan

Poetry Explication
By Ally Lyall and Maddi Hallmark
Kubla Khan
• Author: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
• Written: 1798
• Poem Source:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Ottery
St. Mary on October 21, 1772. He was the
youngest of 10 children. After joining the
Army, he met and married Sara Fricker in
October of 1795 and they had three
children. As he grew older, he rapidly
worked himself into debt due to his lifelong addictions to opium, alcohol, and
women and this eventually led to divorce
with his wife.
Kubla Khan
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 here were gardens bright with sinuous rills
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing
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
As if this earth in fast thick pants were
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 't would 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 Paraphrased
I, Kubla Khan live in Xanadu and
had a fancy and beautiful palace
built. The river, Alph, flows
through my land, all the way
down to the sea. Walls
surrounded the palace and bright
gardens and blooming trees fill
the land with greenery. But the
strong river keeps beckoning me
back, like a woman calling for her
love. This swift and fast river
continuously rushes down the
mountainside, bouncing off rocks,
and reminds me of hail. Alph
slows down as it meanders
through the forests, and once it
reaches the cliff, it falls into the
Listening to the river I am
reminded of war. The view of the
entire palace and landscape is a
beautiful sight. The cold caves
contrast with the warm-filled
palace. I once had a vision of a
girl playing a dulcimer and
singing about a place called
Mount Abora. If I could bring to
life, my vision, I myself could
create amazing things. My vision
becomes so real, that people
should beware. Its power is
strong enough to make me a god
of all the land.
• Formal Language, Abstract, Vivid,
No Slang
• Vivid expressions are created in
the poem through semantics,
because the author uses very
descriptive words
• Words such as “wailing, seething,
turmoil, delight, pleasure, and so
on” are examples of words that
have good or bad connotation
• When the author refers to things
such as a palace, a damsel, and a
dulcimer, it shows that the poem is
set in the past
Tone and Mood
• At the beginning, the poem conveys a
happy and serene scene.
– “And here were gardens bright with
sinuous rills. Where blossomed many an
incense-bearing tree.”
• In the middle of the poem, when Kubla
Khan is thinking about the caverns and
war, his thoughts become dark and
– “By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless
turmoil seething”
• The poem ends with a powerful and
mighty tone as the author realizes the
power he could obtain.
– “Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his
floating hair!”
Tone and Mood (cont.)
• Overall this poem has a pretty serious mood, but
the tone changes frequently due to Khan’s
continuous thoughts.
• This poem deals with irony when compared to
the author’s life
– In the poem Kubla Khan has a lot of power and lives
in a paradise
– In Coleridge’s life, he dealt with debt, addictions, and
failure which left him lonely and poor
• The poem took the reader from peacefulness, to
the reality of life’s struggles, and ended with a
empowering feeling
Rhetorical Situation
• The speaker is acting as a narrator to
describe Kubla Khan’s life and analyze his
thoughts on certain situations
• As the reader, we are overhearing the
poem being narrated like it’s a story being
told to us
Figurative Language
• Similes:
– “Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail.”
• Personification:
– “Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns;
dancing rocks; the shadow of the dome of
pleasure floated midway on the waves”
• Idiom
– “lifeless ocean”
• Hyperbole
– “caverns measureless to man”
• Kubla Khan creates the mental picture of a
palace that is safe, sunny, and warm. It is
built in a beautiful green and vibrant area,
with raging oceans, rivers, and cliffs. This
poem is nosey, active and even dangerous.
The green gardens make you feel peaceful
where the ocean makes you feel gloomy. It
is a mysterious dead end. The cliffs give you
the image of something freighting. This
poem is full of power. It is something
different. It is a vision in a dream.
• Symbolism: The Xanadu palace is really
taken from the Mongol and Chinese
emperor Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty
• The poem Kubla Khan does not really have a
rhyme scheme.
• Repetition: refers to the caverns and also to the
river, Alph, multiple times throughout the poem
• Alliteration: Kubla Khan, dome decree, river ran,
measureless to man, and sunless sea
• Assonance: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, So twice
five miles of fertile ground
Poem Structure
• This poem is considered a “fragment”
– its incomplete nature represents aspects of
the creative process through its form
• Stanzas
– Has one long continuous stanza
• Free Verse
– The poem has no formal structure
• Rhyme pattern
– No specific pattern, but many of the words at
the ends of lines rhyme with each other
• Overall we think Coleridge was able to
convey different moods throughout the
poem due to his diction, figurative
language, and imagery.
• The strongest elements were his use of
figurative language and imagery to
describe the land of Xandu.
• He referenced the river, Alph, multiple
times, but he always kept it interesting
• His rhyme scheme was subtle and just
added to the flow of the poem
Personal Reactions
• This poem was pretty easy to read because it was
structured like a story, but it changed subject often
because it is almost set up the way a person thinks
in their mind and goes through a variety thoughts
• At the end the poem gives you a feeling of hope
and wonder as Kubla Khan seeks power
• The poem is from the 1700s, and is set in an even
more ancient time, so it is difficult to relate to at
some points
• Overall it was entertaining to read, and it left us with
scenes of beautiful greenery and the palace in our
head from Coleridge’s use of imagery