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What are the ways in which Coleridge depicts the relation between the physical world,...

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user6258714 | eNoter

Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:35 AM via web

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What are the ways in which Coleridge depicts the relation between the physical world, the mind and the divine in "Kubla Khan"?

 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM (Answer #1)

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Many critics view this poem as an allegory about the process of creating art: just as Kubla Khan creates his pleasure dome and his earthy paradise by imposing his will on nature, reflecting something of the divine in its beauty, so too does the poet, captured in the memorable figure of the man with his "flashing eyes" and "floating hair," try to create art by reflecting divine beauty in his work as he makes order out of chaos. It is this act that the speaker explicitly states he wishes to achieve in the final stanza, as he contemplates Kubla Khan's creation and wishes that he could do the same with his poetry:

I would build that dome in air,

That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!

What Kubla Khan creates in the "sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice" becomes a powerful symbol of artistic creation. The relationship between the divine, the natural world and the mind is therefore expressed in this allegory: the mind seeks to reflect something of the divine, or heavenly beauty, through imposing its creation on the world around it. Just as Coleridge himself created the poem "Kubla Khan," so too did Kubla Khan show this relationship through his creation of the "sunny pleasure dome" with its "caves of ice."

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