Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced;
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
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:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves:
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome within the air!
That sunny dome, those caves of ice,
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry: “Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle ’round him thrice,
And close your eyes in holy dread:
For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise!”

Have you ever had a dream, and woken up, and been eager to try and spread the miracle that the dream is throughout the world? And in this quest, been interrupted and then forgotten? Well, Coleridge has!!

This poem is, along with “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, one of Coleridge’s most famous poems. The story of its composition, is also of much interest. Coleridge, famously, was addicted to opium, and in one of his opium influenced dreams, is said to have composed a poem of about 200 lines. As soon as he woke up, he started writing the poem. However, he was interrupted in this task by a “gentleman of Porlock”, who came to talk of some business and did not leave till after an hour. After this period of time, Coleridge found that he could not remember the poem. It is said that the first three paragraphs were written before the interruption, and the last, which some people say is completely different, after. Now, the person from Porlock has become a metaphor for the malicious interruptions that life throws in our way when inspired. The poem itself, is of famous or the imagery in the first three stanzas. With words such as “A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!” and the like, it basically is a tale of how Kubla Khan, ordered the building of a “pleasure dome”

It is however, the last paragraph that strikes me. Coleridge speaks of a vision he once had, of a damsel playing her dulcimer, and singing of “Mount Abora” He wishes that he could recreate her “Her symphony and song,” basically a metaphor for the dream he had, which prompted him to write the poem. He would, he claims, recreate the pleasure dome with “Music loud and long,” All his listeners would have to beware of the danger that the vision induces, “His flashing eyes, his floating hair!” And they would cross themselves thrice, as per the superstition.  But, awed by the beauty of the vision, they would have no choice but to take part in the celebration, “For he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise.”

Why did I post this? Well, I have been wondering a lot about dreams lately, and their power. My thinking has gone on the lines of my theory, that Life is a lot of dream, and a lot of reality. A dream is a secure place, a place where the saddest sorrows and the happiest joys will probably be the same. It is also something whose end is imminent, and it might end anytime. And in such a position, we can see a lot of beautiful, great things in our dreams, things we can never ever see, and in that case, it DOES feel bad when you forget what you dreamt about. It is something just outside the grasp, and you just cant catch hold of that thought. The only feeling that you remember, is that the dream was of incredible beauty. Our life seems empty, because we have just forgotten something of so much interest, and we usually end up attaching a lot of importance in it.

Or you could probably say that I liked the poem very much. 😛

“It does not do, to dream, and not to live.”

I think I just misquoted Dumbledore.


P.S. WordPress completely messed up the last stanza up. 😦


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