What is the Supernatural element in this Poem?

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bhawanipur | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Coleridge, with a very short poetic career, is considered to be one of the most note worthy poet of the 18th century. In 1796 he published his first volume of poems on various subjects. His best works are mainly of two kinds

a) Supernatural Poems and b) Conversational poems

He had written supernatural poems like- Kubla Khan, Christabel and The Rime of Ancient Mariner. These are considered to be always contemporary and excellent poems of romantic imagination.

b) One of the example of his Conversational Poems is “A frost at Midnight and Dejection – an Ode”. It reveals reflective side of his disposition.

Treatment of the supernatural is the  most outstanding contribution of Coleridge to the romantic. As Coleridge and Wordsworth undertook to write the “lyrical Ballads”, Coleridge took the supernatural as his field naturalized it. There is not any fine dreamer in English verse than Coleridge. His high supernatural imagination is controlled by his thought and study. As a co-founder of the Romantic Movement, Wordsworth is a nature poet and Coleridge is known for his supernaturalism.

Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” is a dream poem, a poem of pure majic and sheer fancy. It is one of his three masterpieces of super natural poetry. He created an atmosphere of supernatural mystery by his description of the pleasure dome and the surrounding of it. For example “the river Alph, flowing through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea.” The immeasurable abysses and the sunless sea stir the feeling of mystery and even fear in our mind.

Then comes the deep romantic gorge which lay across a wood of cedar tress. The manner in which the water intermittently gushes forth from the spring, throwing up huge pieces of rocks are staggering to the readers’ imagination. The atmosphere of mystery and fear is emphasized when another reference is made to the sunless sea or the lifeless ocean in to which the water of Alph falls with a loud roar. The whole of this description is awe-inspiring if not horrifying.

We should also note that suggestiveness is a very important ingredient of Coleridge’s supernaturalism. We should not forget the closing lines which contain a picture of poetic frenzy. We see here a great blending of the natural and the supernatural.

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His fleshing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice

And close eyes with holy dread,

For him on honey- drew hath fed.

And drunk the milk of Paradise.


Here we see that every line emphasizes the atmosphere of mystery and fear and this is the key note of the poem.

Coleridge’s Kubla Khan is a triumph of supernaturalism. It transforms the world of everyday life in to world of enchantment. The atmosphere of strangeness and mystery has effectively and skillfully been created in the poem.

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