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Thread: Brother Morris and other Kubla Khan readers...

  1. #1

    Default Brother Morris and other Kubla Khan readers...

    I've been reading and thinking about Samuel Coleridge's Kubla Khan and curious for your thoughts.

    Coleridge is said to have written this piece immediately upon waking from an opium dream and was interrupted before completing it. There are scholars who dispute this and claim is not a fragment at all. I suppose it does not matter much but I was wondering what you felt. When you finish reading it do you have the sense of conclusion or a somewhat incomplete feeling? What are your general thoughts?

    Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    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.

    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.

    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!
    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.
    Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
    Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
    Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
    And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!

    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!

    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    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,
    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 honey-dew hath fed
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.
    Last edited by pm01; 07-19-2007 at 08:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Ancient Arachnid Spider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Re: Brother Morris and other Kubla Khan readers...

    I get a sense that this is just the introduction to an epic poem: setting, characters and hints of impending danger.
    Atrophy: what you get when you win atournament.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Brother Morris and other Kubla Khan readers...

    Spider, your intellectual depth/vision yet surgically concise posts constantly astonishes me.

  4. #4
    National Finalist MOJO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Philadelphia, PA

    Default Re: Brother Morris and other Kubla Khan readers...

    Hey Brother PM,
    Sorry for the late response with this, I must have missed it as I went through the threads. That and/or my haziness from my own opium induced dream-like state! Regarding your question about this great work, which as I have mentioned, is probably my absolute favorite poem, I do feel a sense of completion within the context of what the poem is about. In simplistic terms, the poem is about a guy who wakes up from a fantastic (drug induced) dream about a heroic, mysterious and magical person and place- (Khan and Mongolia/China were still nearly mythological to Victorian England). Upon waking, the dreamer quickly reflects upon his own frustrating, incomplete and somewhat anonymous existance and recalls another exotic vision, the dulcimer playing African woman singing of another mysterious place. The images of his dream and of this woman contrasted with his own frustration cause the dreamer to blame his inability to create a masterpiece or approach greatness on his inability to hold this spirit within himself. If only he could hold on to the feelings and power that the current dream or the former vision elicited, the dreamer believes he would be able to do something worthy of the great Khan or perhaps the mythological gods of Olympus. Unfortuantly, this muse like a dream, is fragile and disintegrates even as he tries to recall it and he is left in his frustrations. I think the reader is supposed to feel the incompleteness of the dream and the dreamer, an incompleteness that many if not most people share, that the great prize is just out of reach. That would be my 2 cents. Thanks for sharing the poem and the question Brother PM. I can always count on you to provide a glimpse of paradise in the midst of the mundane!

  5. #5
    Round of 12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Norwood, Pa.

    Default Re: Brother Morris and other Kubla Khan readers...

    Good poem, Coleridge uses the sense of "there's so much more left unsaid" to give a sense of depth and gravitas to a rather short poem. The sense of an epic left unsung is felt throughout the work.

    MOJO (and others) a alltime favorite of mine, Silverlock, by, John Myers Myers, has been re-published. The story of a shallow self-centered man who washes up on the shores of The Commonwealth (as in Commonwealth of Letters), meets characters from literature (don't cheat and look in the back, see how many you can identify) and grows as a man. A little known, but all time great book.

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