What does it mean to have fed on “honeydew” and “drunk the milk of paradise" in "Kubla Khan"?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, there is a parallel between the world of imagination and paradise. For many cultures, especially earlier ones where the majority of people struggled to get adequate amounts of food, paradise was conceived as a place where luxurious foods would be available in unlimited quantity without effort. Milk and honeydew melon are especially images of luxury from a desert culture -- the paradise imagined in this poem is almost Islamic despite Kubla Khan having been Mongolian.

The ending, suggesting that people should be in awe of the poet or artist who can recapture dream visions and create works of imagination is linked to the notion that this visionary experience is like being given a glimpse or experience of paradise, and artists who have it should be held in the same awe as holy men and women who have purely religious visions.