There is a rift between inspiration and expression in the poem "Kubla Khan." Discuss.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an excellent question to think about in relation to this poem. Of course, as I am sure you are no doubt aware, the vision that this poem was trying to recapture or recreate was a dream that Samuel Taylor Coleridge experienced after taking opium. Clearly the author faced the challenge of how he could recreate this dream in his poetry, leading to the rift that you refer to between his inspiration and the limitations of the written word to express the surreal, dream-like nature of what he is trying to capture in his poetry.

However, you could argue that this poem represents the triumph of expression, and some critics argue that this poem is actually about the creation of a poem, for the poem itself has been created fromĀ air, with words, to give us vivid images and a new way to look at creativity and the imagination. I also think Coleridge created an amazingly mellifluous poem by using a carefully controlled rhythm and meter, with great examples of alliteration to help lull us into the dream-like state that he no doubt experienced:

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean...

Note how the alliteration of the "m" sound suggests the course of the river and imparts a definite musical quality to the poem.