by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Kubla Khan Versions of Reality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (verse)
"a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment" (subtitle)
This line is really a part of the poem. Think about how at the end of a cheesy movie someone will wake up and say "It was all a dream!" Well, that's what Coleridge does here, except he starts off like that. We know right away that the world we are stepping into is an alternate version of reality. Even though it contains some parts of the real world, it won't always look and feel the same.
"Ancestral voices prophesying war!" (line 30)
There isn't just one dream going on here either - there are all kinds of layers in this poem. Kubla (who might be a ghost) hears the voices of his ancestors in the river. It's a vivid image - you can almost hear the shouting and the clanking and the stomping of those Mongol hordes. These guys conquered all of Asia and some of Europe in just a few decades. They must have been terrifying. So we've already got a strange dream of Xanadu going on, and now there's another dream of the armies of Genghis Khan nested inside of it.
"In a vision once I saw" (line 38)
When did he have this vision? Is this the vision in the dream he was talking about? It seems like this must be yet another vision. The dulcimer-playing maiden appears in a strange way, and seems to belong to another story entirely. So we have dreams and visions and hallucinations all fighting for space in this poem. See why alternate versions of reality are such a big deal here?