6/26/2019

Supernatural elements in "Kubla Khan" by Coleridge.




Coleridge's Kubla Khan is the finest specimen of pure poetry, a product of sheer fancy. It is a dream poem, a poem of pure magic. Being essentially of the nature of a dream it enchants us by the sheer loveliness of its colour, artistic grandeur and sweet harmony. The poem exemplifies Coleridge's mastery over supernatural poetry.

Coleridge creates an atmosphere of mystery in Kubla Khan mainly by describing the pleasure dome and the surrounding in which it stood. The poet says:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea.

It is beautiful place where the river Alph flows through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea." The immeasurable caverns and the subterranean lake, evoke in our minds a feeling of mystery and awe. There is the deep romantic chasm which lay across a forest of cedar tress. From this gorge was momently forced a mighty fountain, the source of river Alph. The manner in which the water is described as intermittently forcing its way out from the spring fascinates the reader.

Suggestiveness is the key-note of Coleridge's treatment of the supernatural. Coleridge does not describe the supernatural; he simply suggests it. It is true that a very vivid and graphic description of the surrounding of the pleasure dome is given in the poem but the supernatural element is suggestive. Here are lines which for sheer suggestiveness and mystery are perhaps unsurpassed:

A savage place! as holy as enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover.

Another important feature of Coleridge's treatment of the supernatural is a very subtle blending of the natural and the supernatural. The mighty fountains being momently forced from the deep romantic chasm is definitely invested with supernatural energy but the similes employed to describe it are so familiar that we accept the fountain as quite natural.

But despite the mystery and awe evoked in the poem, the whole description is psychologically accurate because when the poet is in a state of frenzy, he is really like a magician. Out of this creative madness come the gems of truth and beauty. Touches of realism have been added, even to the description of the chasm and the mighty fountain. Coleridge uses the similes - rebounding hail and chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail - which are similar to our lives and most
natural. If Kubla Khan hears prophesies of war in all the tumultuous noise, it is not un-realistic. It is true to human experience. After all he was a brave warrior.

Coleridge never forgets that his real purpose was to make supernatural natural and to bring about the "willing suspension of disbelief which constitutes poetic faith." Whether Kubla Khan is seen as a poem about poetic creativity or about life, it is a convincing work.

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