How does Kubla Khan move from being a simple recreation of a vision into an affirmation of the power of imaginative poetry? Explain how the poem does this.

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"Kubla Khan" falls into three parts. The first thirty lines display a unity that dashes forward as if pouring out of the poet's pen unbidden—just as Coleridge describes his dream as having unfolded. Lines 31–36 pause for reflection on the scene just described, as if the poet pauses to catch his breath. The remaining lines (37–54) mark a change of subject and mood, and the consistently shorter meter creates a more controlled, intentional tone.

The first section is the recreation of Coleridge's vision while under the influence of the prescribed "anodyne," as he relates in his explanatory note. One has the distinct impression that line 30 marks the point in Coleridge's transcription of the dream when he was "called out by a person on business from Porlock." The middle section seems to be an effort to re-enter the dream. However, in the final section, the poet seems to have given up on recapturing the dream and instead provides a commentary on the creative process.

In the final section, Coleridge switches from third- to first-person narration. He recounts a vision of a "damsel with a dulcimer," and we as readers wonder whether this is part of his Kubla Khan dream. Since it alludes to Paradise Lost, we are probably right to conclude it isn't. Coleridge imagines what could happen if he were able to recreate the feelings of her "symphony and song" in himself. He would then be able to "build that dome in air,/ That sunny dome! those caves of ice!" Doing so would make him a magician with "flashing eyes" and "floating hair." He would have the power to create a vision for others, displaying what they would perceive as a supernatural ability: "And all who heard should see them [the dome and caves] there,/ And all should cry, Beware! Beware!"

The final section of "Kubla Khan" goes beyond the "vision in a dream" to acclaim the power of the poet and poetry to amaze by creating new worlds and new sensations for readers.

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Alhough Samuel Taylor Coleridge's notes about the composition of "Kubla Khan" present it as a simple description of a vision, manuscript scholarship suggests that whatever the inspiration for the poem, Coleridge spent significant time polishing and revising it, and that the work has more significance that simply being a description of an opium dream. The "dome of pleasure", like the Tennysonian "Palace of Art" acts as a metaphor for poetry, or the arts, and Kubla Khan's decree that the palace be built replicates the act of poetic creation. The final section, ("Could I revive within me … ") suggests that it is by recollection and recreation of visionary intensity that the poet creates verbal works just as awe-inspiring as the visions that inspires them; the poem is itself as wonderful an object as the pleasure dome.

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