“Kubla Khan”

Coleridge, Samuel. “Kubla Khan.” The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems by Samuel T. Coleridge. The Peter Pauper Press, 1950.

I remember ripping this apart line by line in a high school English class and then again in a college poetry course. We studied this so much I developed a crush on young Coleridge’s face (but, not so much after he got a little jowly). Probably my favorite detail about Kubla Khan is that it was supposedly conceived after one of Coleridge’s drug induced dreams.
I don’t feel the need to get into the meaning behind the poem or to get didactic about the symbolism. Suffice it to say, Kubla Khan is the ruler of Xanadu and the land is described like a paradise of the imagination. Each element, the river, garden, ocean, forest, and cavern are symbols for man’s existence. Tyranny and war represent a reality in direct contrast to Xanadu. If you want anything more than that (about the maiden, etc), read the poem!

My favorite line, “And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething…” (p 54).

Reason read: April is National Poetry Month. But…I’m not sure I needed to read this (see twist below).

Author fact: Samuel Taylor Coleridge is thought to have been mentally ill with a drug problem.

Poetry fact: “Kubla Khan” is not as well known as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Where in the World Do These Books Belong?” (p 259). Pearl mentions “Kubla Khan” when talking about Caroline Alexander’s book, The Way to Xanadu because it’s about the places that influenced Coleridge’s poem. Coleridge himself is not indexed in Book Lust To Go but “Kubla Khan” is. Here was my dilemma: I am not ready to read The Way to Xanadu so I’m not sure “Kubla Khan” is included…but since the poem is in the index of Book Lust To Go I have to read it. Does that make sense?



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