Explain the line from Kubla khan “And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war”

“And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war”.(Lines 29-30)


These lines occur in Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan. While tracing the source as well as the course of the sacred river Alph, the poet has a romantic suggestion of Kubla Khan’s ancestors’ prediction of a war.

The river Alph was formed of the water of a spring, bursting forth out of a mysterious chasm. It flowed down five long miles in a zigzag course through woods and valleys. It thereafter passed through deep, immeasurable caverns and at last fell, with great noises, into the dark, deep sea where no light could reach. In those noises, Kubla Khan seemed to hear from far his ancestors’ voices. Those very voices echoed into his ears some grave warning against the coming war. In fact, Kubla’s ancestors appeared to predict the coming danger from war to him.

These lines have supernatural suggestiveness quite typical of Coleridgean poetry. Kubla Khan did not actually hear but rather perceived in the roaring sound of the water falling into the sea the voices of his ancestors predicting war. This is a sort of supernatural obsession with human psychology.