How can "Kubla Khan" be considered a dream poem?

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It is generally believed that Coleridge wrote the poem under the influence of opium. He didn't take this highly addictive drug to inspire some poetic dream vision, but for the more mundane reason that he needed it to quell the pain he was suffering. At that time, opium was perfectly legal, a widely available drug used by ordinary, respectable people for the purpose of pain relief. Little was known at the time about the damaging side-effects of the drug. But one of the things that just about everybody did know about opium was that it could induce strange, colorful dreams and hallucinations. And it was in one such crazy dream that Coleridge allegedly found the inspiration for "Kubla Khan."

This would account for the poem's hazy, dream-like quality, in which disparate images and landscapes are juxtaposed in a way that would never happen in the real world. Coleridge uses his vivid imagination to fuse the two radically different landscapes of the stately pleasure dome's interior and the wilder, more rugged environment outside, with its dark underground caverns and exploding volcanoes. This is in keeping with his theory that the imagination—the secondary imagination, to be precise—is able to balance and reconcile opposite or discordant qualities in the creation of new worlds. Such an imaginative fusion of opposites is most often seen in dreams, which of their very nature defy the laws of logic.

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" is often thought to be a dream poem, and for good reason. A short, descriptive line before the beginning of the poem describes it as "a vision in a dream," while Coleridge himself claimed to have "composed" the poem in response to a vision he had while sleeping. Thus, it is reasonable to suppose that the poem is either meant to describe a dream sequence or, at the very least, a fantastical dream world. 

Furthermore, the imagery within the poem suggests a magical dreamscape. For example, Coleridge describes "A stately pleasure-dome" (2), "gardens bright.../ Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree" (9), "Ancestral voices prophesying war" (30), and "A damsel with a dulcimer/ In a vision" (37-8). All in all, the poem takes us on a tour of various fantastical images, many of which seem to spring to life spontaneously and without prior explanation, just like images in a dream. As such, given the fragmented, exotic, and almost magical nature of the poem, it would be perfectly plausible to assume that Coleridge is, at least in part, describing a dream sequence. 

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