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Critical analysis of one poem; Kubla Khan

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Introduction

Critical analysis of one poem; Kubla Khan. In the visionary fragment Kubla Khan, Coleridge tells us of the mythical land of Xanadu, and its emperor Kubla Khan. Throughout the poem, he describes Xanadu using strong imagery, which reflects nature and sublimity, but not always in the safe, happy way that we might expect. Coleridge's own love of nature is evident and the religious references that he includes suggest the theory of Pantheism-that 'God is all, and all is God.' The name Kubla Khan is reminiscent of the historical emperor Kublai Khan who ruled over Shangdu, claiming he had the Mandate of Heaven, a traditional Chinese concept of rule by divine permission. Coleridge's choice of the name 'Kubla Khan' for the emperor references this religious concept, and the religious theme is continued throughout the poem. "For he on honey-dew hath fed, /and drunk the milk of paradise" is one of the strongest religious ideas that Coleridge has included- the foods honey and milk make reference to the Promised Land, or ...read more.

Middle

It could also be interpreted as part of the Romantics' rebellion against measurement, as they considered emotions to be of greater importance. However, despite all the tranquil imagery in the first Stanza, there is a sense of danger evident, which hints at the frightening, uncontrollable side of nature. This terrifying side is hinted at early in the poem. In the third line of the first stanza, the phrase "the sacred river, ran" suggests that something dangerous and frightening is coming, and that Alph, the river, is running away from it. The idea of a "sunless sea" is sinister and frightening, and suggests a forbidden place, that man would not normally experience. However, it is not until the second stanza that we see this aspect to nature clearly. There is a rapid increase in pace -from the calmness of the first stanza, where Coleridge has used alliteration to make the passage seem to flow gently, for example, "river ran" and "sunless sea", to the second stanza, punctuated with exclamation marks which speed up the poem and change the atmosphere. ...read more.

Conclusion

The philosopher Burke said that anything that produced the strongest emotions that a human is capable of feeling is Sublime, and that the strongest feelings are those of pain and fear. This makes us consider that nature is more impressive here, demonstrating its power, making us feel scared and demanding reverence, than in the first stanza where it could be considered simply beautiful. Nature in this poem can also be considered a metaphor for the imagination-if kept suppressed and controlled for too long, it will burst out with disastrous consequences. This idea is originally from the Augustan age, a time that Coleridge and other Romantic poets idolised and tried to recreate in their work. Throughout the poem, Coleridge uses images of nature to convey the ideas of sublimity and Pantheism. He explores the impact of man on nature, and the consequences of trying to control it. Despite his claim that 'a person on business from Porlock' meant that he never actually finished the poem, it portrays a message to us that it is nature that connects man and God. ...read more.

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