A savage place! as holy and enchantedAs e’er beneath a waning moon was hauntedBy woman wailing for her demon-lover!(Lines 14-16)
These lines form a part of Coleridge’s description in connection with the stately pleasure-dome, ordered to be built by the mighty oriental monarch Kubla Khan. The lines occur in his much-celebrated poem Kubla Khan. The poet here presents poetically the origin of the sacred river Alph by the side of which the palace was to be erected.
That sacred river’s actual origin was in a chasm, deep and desolate. It was all a secluded place, haunted with a sense of mystery and fear. The chasm was naturally taken as something strange and romantic. Yet, the place had a touch of holiness in its magical suggestiveness and mysterious suspense. The poet adds to the scenic charms of the place by a mystical touch of the waning moon. What he suggests is the paleness of the moon under the effect of magic and witchcraft. The weird environment is further intensified by an anecdote. That is about a woman in love with a demon who had deserted her after living with her. Much distressed by his desertion, she went to some lonely, rather mystical place to mourn for his absence. In the poet’s view that romantic chasm had a similar setting as its place of origin.
The passage indicates Coleridge’s artistry to create an atmosphere of mystery and dread out of a quite natural setting. His art to convey supernatural suspense and suggestiveness is well borne out in the passage.