KUBLA KHAN

                   “Kubla Khan is a voice and a vision, an everlasting tune

                       in our mouths, a dream…revived and re-inspired…a piece

                      of the invisible world made visible by a sun at midnight and

                      sliding before our eyes.”    

                                                               (Leigh Hunt, “sketches of living poets)

       Born in 1772 in Ottery. St., T.S.Coleridge lead a very disquiet life in his early childhood. After his father’s death he was sent to the Christ’s hospital school. There he had felt a great emotional vacuum, which was the beginning of his continuos ill health. Charles Lamb, his schoolmate, gave us an account of this period affirming that Coleridge was highly imaginative, who sought refuge in reading old romantic tales as well as Homer, Virgil, and Shakespeare.

     Perhaps the most influential period in Coleridge’s life was the period when he met Wordsworth in 1795, after he had left Cambridge. It seemed that in the company of Wordsworth, Coleridge found the mental peace, security, and environmental harmony. This had resulted in the sudden flowering of his genius, a sudden release of his creative impulses, and he wrote “The Ancient Mariner”, “The Christable”, and “Kubla Khan”.

     Much about the composition and subject matter of “Kubla Khan” can be detected from Coleridge’s Preface to that poem:

“ This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of reverie brought on by two grains of opium taken to check a dysentery…”

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This fact raises the issue of the drug’s effect on the poet’s creative imagination. Early critics assumed that there was a direct and immediate correlation between opium and imagination. In 1934 M.H. Abrams declared that the “great gift of opium” to men like Coleridge “was to access to a new world as different from this one; and one which is ordinary mortal”. According to Elizabeth Schneider, opium can only work “on what is already there in a man’s mind and memory” and “ if he already has a creative imagination and a tendency to” recall dreams and visions. Then opium may ...

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