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Rio Gonzalez Dr. Michael Sexson Oceans of Stories 20120418 The Wine Tasting of Kubla Khan Romance may mean different things to different people yet the qualifications that apply to romance are clear, a happy ending, a revelation, some kind of apparent death; these requirements are just a few of the potential plethora of aspects of romance. Though with all the potential requirements, romance can be, so long as the person looking comprehends the possibilities, found in more places than might initially be expected. Romance is in everything that a person can perceive, with the right set of eyes. Most recently I have found, not surprisingly, the poem "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to be extremely romantic. In the next few pages I shall present a romantic analysis of this romantic poem. “Kubla Khan” begins: 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. In this first stanza Kubla Khan has begun a kind of journey, a beginning, in building a pleasuredome. This is the catalyst for descent in the poem. “Kubla Khan” continues: So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round: And there 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.

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This is the initial delving into the pastoral which weaves its way through the rest of the poem. It is the flowery language of romance with beautiful or serene visualizations in abundance. Another peripheral aspect of romance is children, and though typically this would mean human babies in this stanza we are to envision Kubla Khan’s mind baby of a pleasure-dome brought into the world. Here Coleridge brings attention to the romance of his poem in his subtle use of metalinguistics: “But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted/Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! [emphasis added]” which immediately precedes the descent itself into discovery: A savage place! as holy and enchanted As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover! Which gives a brief but powerful visual of a darkly sensual scene. The carnal implication, the longing and the potential for violence radiate from this passage in a similar way to any sexually charged, dangerous scene from a low-brow romance or dime novel. Coleridge continues with his insinuative innuendo holding fast to the sensuality and friction of this turn before giving a kind of release to the reader, again charged with innuendo, that allows us to once again breathe and regain some composure. 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. There is a drastic tone change here, the word choice and the end and beginning of sentences forces an acknowledgment of a leveling out to the crescendo we have just been walked through.

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Should this, as I obviously believe it should, be analyzed as a kind of cathartic romantic literary ejaculation or orgasm then we can use this as an analogy for the apparent death that is one of the requirements of romance. At this point in the poem Coleridge has utilized the majority of the peripheral and one of the required aspects of romance. 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! Again we have the insinuation of an apparent death when looked at from the analogy of sexual intercourse, with the “mazy motion” of the sacred river reaching a lifeless ocean. This unfortunate impotence in Kubla Khan might be a reason for the top layer of the poem that a cursory read might impress as Kubla’s manic need to create and to fortify himself against a, potentially great, violence. Here we begin a new stanza that seems transitionary but comes to explain itself, like a last minute but well chosen garnish to a hearty meal: 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! We are returning to the pastoral through the visualization of being on a shore on a sunny morning and enjoying the tranquil sounds of babbling water. In this stanza we are bombarded with juxtapositioning; we have the earth and the sea, the sun and ice, and garden or self and wild or

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Other as we stand “with walls and towers … girdled round”. This stanza alone could drive a psychologist to a feeding frenzy with all the gems that could be dug up and analyzed as subconscious aspects of Coleridge as he went through his opium haze, dreaming this poem. However, as a student of English I will abstain and leave these particular analyses to the professionals, though they are tempting. What I will bring to attention is the peripherals of romance that are invoked here. They are: winter, seasonal cycle and the potential for a kind of pirate. The piracy here is less conventional and more of the potential of being plundered by a war. Here again we begin a new stanza; this finale grates the teeth as it first leaves the mouth, it has a harsh transition that is cause for a great pause and a severe tone change after the last. We finished “A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!” as upbeat and hopeful. We begin this with not only a tone change between lines but a perspective change, going from third-person to firstperson narrative: 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 a deep delight 'twould win me That with music loud and long I would build that dome in 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 with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed And drunk the milk of Paradise.

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The ascent in this finale involves breaking the fourth wall, as it were; the reader, or presenter is then the successor of Kubla Khan, having learned from him and, standing on his shoulders, begun the steps to continue the story. As such, in this poem's end is its beginning. The ouroboros of this story. It should not be left unmentioned that this poem is the result of an opium dream.; opium itself could be looked at as a surrogate lover for Coleridge. The emotions and experiences that are had under the influence of opium are capable of being akin to the highs of being in love and fantasizing with your lover. This poem itself then becomes a love child of Coleridge's and his Opium. Thomas de Quincey said, "I question whether any Turk, of all that ever entered the Paradise of opium-eaters, can have had half the pleasure I had." Obviously on the same page as Coleridge when he wrote Kubla Khan.

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Works Cited Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. "Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge." The Literature Network. The Literature Network, n.d. Web. 22 Apr 2012. xxxlt;http://www.online-literature.com/ coleridge/640/xxxgt;. de Quincey, Thomas. "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater." Opioids: Past, Present and Future. London Magazine, n.d. Web. 23 Apr 2012. <http://opioids.com/dequincey/index.html>.

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