After reading "Kubla Khan" by Coleridge I was a bit confused on what he was really trying to say. I knew prior to reading this that Coleridge had been addicted to opium and was no doubt under the influence of opium while writing this. I then guessed that "Kubla Khan" would be a more different poem than what I was used to reading, more… unrealistic and jumbled.
After re-reading the poem it began to make more sense to me, and Michelle’s (MD) comment on the poem, how she seemed to dissect the poem, made it easier for me to understand. I feel like Coleridge is saying how Kubla Khan had a good thing going for him, being in a place with “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” (Kubla Khan, Coleridge [lines 7-11]). To me it feels like he could be in the Garden of Eden. Which also makes me wonder how he could “be there” if the only two humans as the story goes are Adam and Eve, how is there spouse to be another person? Maybe in his lucid sleep he began to be taking the role of Adam. Or maybe because he is male he can relate to Adam and see what he sees.
Once I started getting into the meat of the poem it really got my head spinning. He leaves the garden and then there’s a woman singing? That wasn’t what confused me, what confused me was how he was so in love with her song that it could win him over but than other people are screaming beware beware. Is it like how Eve took the apple from the tree and now women sort of hold this perception of being bad and sinful? But at the very end of the poem he was drunk off the milk of paradise, I feel confused because the woman was said to be someone you watch out for and now he’s in paradise? So maybe it’s like he knows he’s in a bad place because he left the beautiful garden and now he’s in somewhere terrible but there is a woman who is singing and won him over with her song and if he closes his eyes and listens he is in paradise because he’s making the most out of the situation? Yeah let’s go with that, I could be totally off, but from what I had read that’s how I would interpret it. Or maybe he’s just really homesick for the garden. Either way I think Coleridge really got me thinking and painted such a beautiful picture with his words I felt like I could see everything he described. This is one of my favorite poems by him.
A video from David Olney reading out loud "Kubla Khan"