Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams can be used as a lens to help interpret Samuel Taylor Coleridge's dream poem “Kubla Khan."
Freud argues that every single dream people have is “the fulfillment of a wish.” Even the most terrifying nightmare, Freud declares, reflects some kind of unconscious desire. Furthermore, Freud speaks of the relationship between poetry and dreams, calling it “neither sporadic nor accidental” and arguing that many poems can even be traced back to dreams. Poets often use their dreams and their poems to awaken desires in his readers.
For Coleridge, the poet identifies “Kubla Khan” as “a vision in a dream.” With Freud's ideas as a guide, some scholars have tried to interpret the poem as expressing some kind of wish fulfillment for the poet. Others have looked for themes of loss and recovery. Still others have tried to see how the poem expresses Coleridge's creative desires.