Why does he need the maid to help him remember the "dome in air"? He intended to finish the poem, so why didnt he?The end of the fragment tells of the poet's desire to finish the poem.  Why does...

Why does he need the maid to help him remember the "dome in air"? He intended to finish the poem, so why didnt he?

The end of the fragment tells of the poet's desire to finish the poem.  Why does he need the maid to help him remember the "dome in air"? He intended to finsih the poem, why didnt he?

3 Answers | Add Yours

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Have you ever had a great dream and neglected to write it down immediately thinking you would remember it only to have forgotten it?  Or had a fantastic idea that you said to yourself, "Wow!  I really have to make sure I record that one later," and when later comes the words aren't just right or you discover you can't recall the fantastic idea at all? 

Coleridge suffered from the same feeling when attempting to finish the lines of the poem he wrote as the result of a dream.  "Kubla Khan" is a fragment because Coleridge never felt the lines he wrote after having completely awakened and without the  medication-induced miasma from which he wrote the lines which do exist were as good as the first remembered lines.  He chose not to finish it as opposed to just slopping down any lines he considered to be inferior to the original.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

"Kubla Khan" is a strange and mysterious poem. In a note published with the poem, Coleridge explains that just before he wrote the poem, he had been in ill health for some time and had been prescribed an "anodyne" that made him very drowsy. He had been reading Purchas's Pilgrimage, and as he drifted off, this is the last sentence he read: "Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.'' He states that he slept and dreamed about three hours

during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved.

In other words, he wrote the poem while "asleep" or under the influence of whatever the medicine he had taken was. At that moment he had a visitor, and when he returned to the poem, he could not remember anymore of his dream-vision. He wanted to finish it, but he was unable to.

Sources:
kc4u's profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The poet can build the 'dome in the air' with the help of his imagination. Such a dome would be immune from the ravages of time, whereas Kubla's 'pleasure dome' is still threatened with 'the ancestral voices prophesying war'. But poetic creation is a product of imagination, and imagination works in a state of inspiration which is a state of delight. The poet can place himself in that state of delight if he is able to retrieve the song of 'the Abyssinian maid with a dulcimer' which he had once seen in a dream. It was a divine song of a virgin girl sung on the subject of Mount Abora. In Paradise Lost, Bk.iv,Milton refers to Mount Amara, a paradise on earth at the head of the river Nile in Abyssinia.

Coleridge himself informed that he composed the poem in a drug-induced dream. Waking up, he started to write down the poem;then one of his friends from Porlock summoned him. Coming back after some hours, Coleridge was unable to complete the poem as the rest of the poem was gone from his memory for ever..

We’ve answered 318,912 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question