In "Kubla Khan," what images and words appeal to the senses?  

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"Kubla Khan" is a sensory-rich poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In first stanza, the poem appeals to both sight and feeling by describing a "sunless sea." The reader knows it is not only dark, but also likely cold. "Incense-bearing tree" appeals to the sense of smell. This particularly brings the reader into the scene, because the sense of smell is so poignant.

The reader's hearing is employed when a woman wails "for her demon-lover." This moment expresses the savageness of the setting through sound. In the final stanza, hearing is engaged again with the song of a damsel. These two sounds oppose each other. The wail shows pain and turmoil, while the song is meant to be beautiful and offer joy.

The expansive use of sensory detail that Coleridge uses provides a clear picture of the opposing parts that beauty, intensity, and dreadfulness play in the vision that Coleridge is writing about.

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"Kubla Khan" is rich in words and images that appeal to the senses. "Incense bearing trees" arouse the reader's sense of smell. The "shadow of the dome of pleasure" that "floated midway on the waves" is a visual image: we can see a rippling dome reflected on the waves. Later in the poem, we can hear the damsel with the dulcimer playing her song "loud and long." We can also hear the sound of the waterfall and see the image of a fountain of water crashing down the chasm and on the rocks below, flying up again like hail. Coleridge also shows us contrasts between light and shade, as well as images we can almost feel, such as "a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice," which allows us to imagine both the warmth of the sun and the soothing cool of ice.  

The poem came to Coleridge in a dream and retains a dreamlike, fantastic quality. None of it is real, but the sensory imagery makes us feel as if we were there, experiencing Coleridge's dream alongside him. 

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