Critical Summary of Kubla Khan, by S.T Coleridge



Kubla Khan, a purely romantic poem, has a dream like quality about it. It might be called a great magical strain in Coleridge's poetry; a combination of pleasure and sacredness which is the sign of true art. The poet employs fancy to relate that Kubla ruled in Xanadu. His palace was built amid all the beauties of Nature. This made it wonderful and fantastic. From one side of the ten mile long palace ran the sacred river Alph.

The other side had the beauty of green trees and fields. At one side "a mighty fountain momently was forced" and there were "caves of ice too". A sea flowed beneath the palace and its shadow floated "midway on the waves". All this made it "a miracle of rare device". The poet finds it difficult to capture the beauty of the palace. To him, it is just like the symphony of a girl's magical song which he listened to in a dream. The poem is pure romance.

It would not be wrong to say that the poet visually creates the painting of the palace of Kubla Khan that ruled Xanadu while his palace and its beauty rules our hearts. The great romantic enchantment is a must on the readers, for a few due to the words while for others, for the delicacy and neatness of the description. The dream like quality of the poem makes it even more cherishable.

If we can hear the sound of the waterfall and the waves hitting the bottom of the rock on which rests his six mile long palace, Kubla is hearing the voices of his ancestors prophesying war. This rare combination of words forces us to take a flight of our imagination and visit the place in our dreams because such a wonder may not be possible otherwise. Coleridge has so masterfully applied the "willing suspension of disbelief" on the readers that despite declaring the palace a wish and a dream we are desirous of visiting it all.

Use of Fancy in Kubla Khan


The use of fancy has been the speciality of Coleridge's poetry. The wonderful yet awe inspiring unbelievable scenes appeal to the senses with such a delight that our minds are willing to accept the very disbelief as reality which we have endeavoured hard to cope with. The suspension of disbelief can well be applied on this poem where the reader is willing to cherish the rarity of combination of natural scenes.