by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Kubla Khan Theme of Art and Culture
Coleridge helps orient the reader by specifically mentioning music in a few places in "Kubla Khan." Even when he explicitly reference music, we think it's underscoring every line. Do you hear music in this poem? We definitely do, and we think he wanted his readers to as well. Whether the sound you hear is monks chanting in a cave, or the swelling of a symphony, we think music is all over this poem in the sounds it makes and in the way it moves.
Questions About Art and Culture
- Are there parts of this poem that seem particularly musical? Which ones? Or do you think that there's no more or less music here than in any poem?
- Could you imagine telling this same story in another form? Could you make a movie of "Kubla Khan?" How about a cartoon? Or a painting? How would changing the medium make it a different experience?
- Why does that damsel have a dulcimer in line 37? Does thinking about music make that image any easier to figure out?
- What does Coleridge mean when he talks about building a dome with music? (lines 45-46) Is this the sort of thing that could only happen in a poem? Or only in a dream
Chew on This
Coleridge weaves music into this poem, both in the sound of the words and the themes he discusses. By doing this, he emphasizes the dream-like, magical qualities of the world of the poem.