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Presentation on theme: "OR, A VISION IN A DREAM. A FRAGMENT."— Presentation transcript:


2 After he had written out fifty-four lines, he was interrupted by "a person on business from Porlock". This business occupied him for more than an hour, after which he returned to his desk to complete the poem, only to find that he could remember nothing more. This story has become famous as a unique account of poetry composed in a dream

3 In the 'Preface' to the poem he explained the poem's genesis
In the 'Preface' to the poem he explained the poem's genesis. Here he told how he had "retired to a lonely farm-house" because of ill health, and had taken "an anodyne" (a painkiller — in another place Coleridge admits that it was opium) which sent him to sleep. While sleeping, the words of a long poem "rose up before him as things". When he awoke, he proceeded to write down this poem.

4 1 part: the description of the place
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.. Kubla Khan Alph caverns measureless to man hyperbole sunless sea. This big, dramatic river takes over most of the first half of the poem. This is the only time its name is mentioned First letter of the Greek alphabet They are the opposite of the warm, happy palace. They are dramatic, freezing, underground, and represent everything the pleasure dome is not. We get a sense that this landscape is both huge and unknowable. It casts a shadow over these first few lines. It also gives us a sense of being in an imaginary landscape, because where else could a sea always be "sunless" and never bright or cheerful ? according to mythology, the beginning of life and language Kublai Khan ( ) was "the fifth of the Mongol great khans, grandson of the legendary Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. He is best known in the West as the Cublai Kaan of Marco Polo who visited Xanadu, and helped to start the legend of its magnificence Notice how Coleridge is already stepping away from history: he is transforming this place, this person, and this story into his own creation. "Kubla Khan" is definitely a poem about the journeys of the mind and the imagination. There's certainly no river in Mongolia by this name Alpheus = the classical underground river; the sacred river. It gives us the poem's main images of the force and excitement of the natural world. While other places may be quiet or safe or calm, the river is noisy, active, and even a little dangerous.

5 So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round: And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. walls and towers sinuous rills The natural world outside is wild and strange, but within the palace walls things are peaceful and protected. The speaker takes us away from those gloomy, endless caverns, and tells us a little bit about the gardens around the palace. The language gets fancy here. A "sinuous rill“ is really just a twisty stream. Coleridge often uses beautiful language to illustrate simple underlying concepts. Everything about this place feels safe and happy. It's "fertile," the gardens are "bright," even the trees smell good The contrast between the scary, strange caverns and the pleasant, familiar space around the palace is striking

6 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 ! chasm ! ! woman demon ! Maybe a ghost, since she haunts the place. Maybe she has been cursed, or has had a spell cast on her, and she has fallen in love with an evil spirit. Typical of the Romantic literature. The river falls like a cascade down the side of one hill, cutting a "deep chasm," or canyon, through it. Note how the poet, adding the word "demon“, changes and deepens this image. If she was just wailing for a plain old "lover," that would be sad, but not nearly so strange and exciting. Back to the river Alph, which is beginning to seem almost like a character in this poem The speaker isn't saying that any of these things are there in the poem; he's saying that this is the kind of place where they would be at home. The speaker is very excited when he talks about the river as all those exclamations points suggest. The speaker is using them to let us know just how romantic and spooky the chasm really is.

7 And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, 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. momently rebounding hail similes chaffy grain One reading of the poem: The pleasure dome= imagination and poetry The natural world= negative reality ( savage place) in contrast with the world produced by imagination The mighty fountain= the poetic power The river is not seen as something continuous, but as something that is created each moment.

8 measureless to man, lifeless ocean
Five iles eandering with a azy otion  Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, Then reached the caverns measureless to man, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: m m m m alliteration measureless to man, lifeless ocean First we have an image of the river rushing down a deep canyon cut into a wooded hillside. The water is moving fast and furious, almost like a waterfall; the river then flattens out and turns into a proper river, flowing gently through Xanadu for five miles until it reaches some "caverns.” Here we see the caverns again, described in exactly the same way: "measureless to man." The repetition of this phrase emphasizes their importance and drives home their sense of mystery and depth. Different words, same gloomy idea. The murmuring sound of these words reproduces the lazy, slow-moving feeling of the river at this moment in the poem The other settings in the poem tend to be active and alive. The forest is sunny, the river is noisy, the dome is warm, even the caves are deep and icy. The ocean, however is just an empty, open space. It might make us think a little bit of the Underworld, a place where things simply end. The speaker took us up to peak, and now he's taking us down again, circling back to the quiet, spooky images that started the poem. The river reaches now the flat plain of the valley where Xanadu is located.

9 And `mid this tumult KubIa heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war!
This is Genghis Khan's grandson, after all, so he probably spent a lot of time thinking about war or…. This new image takes us away from the river, and into the even wilder second half of the poem. ......the ancestral voices symbolize the voice from the rational world,a menace against the miracle of art ,that is the peaceful world created by Kubla Khan. The “walls and towers” built by Kubla Khan could not even protect himself from the outer world, suggesting that imagination is only a temporary relief from reality.

10 The shadow 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! sunny ice! There's a whole world of contrasts between the dome and the caverns: Natural vs. man-made, symmetrical and irregular, sunny and frozen. This is what gives the poem a lot of its energy: opposites clashing together and then making a weird kind of harmony. The reflection of the dome on the water might allude to the Platonic conception of the material reality as shadows cast by light from the world of Ideas (see Plato's cavern). In this way Kubla's dome would be the perfect idea of poetic creation projected on the sea of appearances. Kubla Khan's pleasure-dome is the central structure in the poem. With its combination of sacred and profane, of natural and artificial elements, it represents first of all that reconciliation of opposites, of the many into one, which Coleridge considered the task of poetic imagination. The poet's energy should therefore be directed to the creation of the "dome" like Kubla's

11 How can we interpret these lines?
2 part: Oniric vision of the poet A damsel with a dulcimer In a vision once saw: It was an Abyssinian maid, And on her dulcimer she played, Singing of Mount Abora. I Without any warning, the speaker changes the subject. He starts to describe another vision that he once had. In this vision he sees a girl. He tells us three things about her, in three lines: She was Abyssinian (that's an old way of saying Ethiopian). 2) She was playing a dulcimer (an instrument with strings). 3) She was singing about a place called Mt. Abora (a name that Coleridge made up). For example, where and what is Mt. Abora? Some people think the speaker is referring to a real place in Ethiopia, some think it's a biblical reference, and others tie it to a place that Milton mentions in Paradise Lost. You could ask the same questions about the other parts of this vision. Why is she from Ethiopia, what does the dulcimer symbolize? In one sense all dreams and visions are private, and they can't be completely explained. That sense of mystery is part of what makes this poem beautiful. sudden change from 3° to 1° person I =the poet How can we interpret these lines?

12 Could I revive Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such a deep delight `twould 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, If he could revive that music then he would be able to create the perfect work of art: the pleasure-dome that Kubla had ordered would be built "in air", to signify the spiritual quality of the poetic creation, unifying the opposites — "That sunny dome! those caves of ice!" — in a harmonious whole in natural adherence to the music from which it took its origin. Now the speaker looks back on the powerful music he heard in that vision. He can describe it to us, but he can't really get back to experiencing that intense feeling

13 And all should cry, Beware. Beware
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 honeydew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise. Weave a circle close your eyes The figure represented is characterised by flashing eyes which might have a blinding effect on humans , floating hair, and finally, by the assumption that he on honey-dew [has] fed And drunk the milk of Paradise; thus he has been entitled to share the privileges of gods ( the ancient gods' consuming ambrosia and nectar). The poet portrayed by the last lines of the poem is the prophet-bard, who was to become popular in the Romantic Age, different from the common human beings for his prophetic qualities, feared by them for his insight into the divine. The second act is to close your eyes with holy dread, i.e. with fear towards a superhuman being. The speaker demands of the reader or listener to perform acts of great reverence or fear towards this figure: the first act, which reminds of symbolic gestures performed during a religious or magic conjuration or incantation, is to weave a circle round him thrice.

14 A person from Porlock ? ? ? Improbabilities in Coleridge's story 1934
a manuscript was discovered with significant variants ? Coleridge spent a good deal of time revising it before publication Purchas. His pilgrimage (1613) a rare and very large volume ? he could hardly have taken with him to a lonely farmhouse

15 Why did he invent this story?
Coleridge seems to have had an intense desire to be seen as an instinctive, spontaneous poet, who composed without difficulty; 1 In fact, he took enormous pains over his poems, and wrote so little, according to Wordsworth, because of the labour that writing cost him. Another possibility is that he was aware that his contemporaries would find the poem meaningless — it tells no story, and consists only of a series of exotic and apparently unrelated images. 2 Thus he invented the story of unconscious composition as a defence against the charge of writing non-sense

16 What does it mean then? It is unknown whether the poem was meant to have a particular meaning. It is possible that Coleridge wanted the individual reader to use his/her own imagination to reach an interpretation of it. 1 2 The poem could be about language: "Alph, the sacred river" is the river of language . This river springs from underground, from the unconscious, and the magical pleasure dome built where the river runs represents poetry. The poem could be about the two different kinds of imagination that Coleridge distinguished in his criticism. 3 Kubla's palace is the product of the decorative 'fancy', whereas the river, which bursts irresistibly from underground represents the true poetic imagination, an irresistible, even dangerous force.

17 Thank you


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