There are two blemishes on Kubla’s power, outside forces that run deep and confoundeven the great builder. The first mystical blight on Kubla’s world is a chasm runningthrough the hills and forests. It is a magical place that seems to breathe, and eruptsinto violent spasms, coughing up vast chunks of earth. This chasm disturbs the riverupon which Kubla has constructed his great walls and towers, and thus disturbs Kublahimself. It seems as though this chasm might be the result of an earthquake, a primalnatural force, that changes forever the Alpheus’ course. The river runs a similarcourse, through wood and dale to deep dank caverns, but its tumult, which was oncewithin Kubla’s realm, is now heard from far. The shadow of Kubla’s dome, which oncegirdled the whole of a beautiful stretch of nature, fed by the river, now falls midwayupon the waves it once encircled. If the chasm did alter the course of the river (it israther difficult to say for certain from the poem itself), then this could symbolize thepower of nature to overcome the ingenuity of man. Like the theme of Jurassic Park,this implies that man’s imagination might be better spent on more innocent pursuits,and that perhaps nature has a wisdom of her own that humanity ought to let lie. Thechasm, whether or not it affects directly the river, does have a negative effect onKubla, for it is during the eruption of the chasm that he hears of an impending war. The second dark force in Kubla’s life is the prophecy of doom. Sounded by ancestralvoices crying out to Kubla, war is prophesied, but is not seen in the poem. Instead,the poem changes to the first person, praising the idea of the pleasure-dome andwishing to build the dome in air. This seems to be Coleridge lamenting the loss of hisvision, and claiming that if it were to be had again that he could do great things withit. This opium-induced dream never does return, or if it does it was never put topaper, for as Coleridge says more than fifteen years after the work’s composition,“the to-morrow in yet to come.”If imagination is the basis for the poem, power is the theme. Kubla, for all his mightand majesty, faces the fact that he is not a god. Coleridge, on realizing that his dreamhas faded with time, and that he may never reach the truest form of it by descriptionand poetry, realizes that he too is not a god. Like in the “Rime of the AncientMariner,” Coleridge creates a situation and a world that are entirely his own. Thepower of creation, “Kubla Khan” warns, is the danger of overextending one’sboundaries. Kubla became mad with power, and nature struck him down, whileColeridge felt the ultimate muse brush past him, leaving him with fragments of whatmight have been. This life we have, this beauty that we have around us, Coleridge seems to say, isenough. It needs not to be captured, nor does it need to be fully explored tounderstand its nature. It is by overreaching the power that God grants to men thateach will find his downfall. The poem “Kubla Khan” is about poetry, and art in general.It is about power and ruler ship. It is about living to fulfillment, and not beingdissatisfied when we come near our mark but fall just short. Enjoying the nearperfection that we are allowed, this call to art rather than to arms, is the only way foreach person to drink deeply of the milk of Paradise.