Symbolic aspect of the poem “Kubla Khan” by S.T.Coleridge

Kubla Khan is no great poem and has not the high excellence of the romantic poems of the great celebrities. It is a simple poem, no doubt a tender and lovely poem, that touches not with its thoughts, but with its enchantment of fancy and dream and art, although attempts are made to detect some symbolic aspect in it.

There may be a symbolic interpretation of the river Alphus running through measureless caverns and falling to a sunless sea. This may be taken to mean a way of life through diverse courses to be lost ultimately in dark death.

The poem has no supernatural suggestiveness and there is no suspension of disbelief here. But a very precise supernatural implication may be perceived in the mention of the common, wailing for her demon-lover beneath a waning moon. The touch of mystery is marked here like the moon and that of the woman and her demon lover.

The poet here gives a pregnant account of the sacred river, moving within the hilly covers and thereafter bursting forcefully just like chaffy grain rushing out of a thresher’s flail.

The same underlying sense is here suggested of the constant mobility of life only to have death ultimately.

The picture of the shadow of the dome, floating on the waves, is a continuation of the previous image of the stately pleasure-dome decreed by Kubla Khan. But the image here appears to be rather detached from the previous one and may be taken as the poet’s attempt to retain the link between reality and dream.

The vision of a damsel with her dulcimer is a well-conceived image, but it seems to be completely detached from the images previously conceived about the pleasure-dome decreed by Kubla Khan. This image is detached from the other part and stands to signify another symbolic aspect of the poem and that is the creative urge of art against the adversity of situations. The poet speaks here of the power of the poetic invention that may make out of what is airy and unsubstantial something solid and imposing.

The conclusion of the poem refers to the sensual delight that is a part of the poetic inspiration but least understood by people in general. The poet’s visualization is somewhat uncommon, inexplicable to people in general who may have a dread for his flashing poetic fancy. In this connection, the poet refers to the milk of paradise to indicate the Muslim sects who, during the war of Crusades, used to drug themselves to fall upon the Christian defenders of the holy land.

Kubla Khan may be interpreted symbolically to find out its depth and range. But to emphasize this may prove an extremity and this may be liable to affect the poetic art of the poem and the enjoyment of the poem rests on a marvel of imagination-as a rare enchantment for enjoyment.