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Module 1: Coleridge Kubla Khan

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Poetic inspiration

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English - Poetic inspiration

Poetic inspiration

Thus paradise has been represented in architecture and music, and the poet
now argues that he, too, could create great art, a paradisal creation just
like that of Kubla and the Abyssinian maid.

'Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
THAT SUNNY DOME! THOSE CAVES OF ICE!' (ll.43-47)

This is a triumphant statement of the potential of the poet as artistic
creator and it is expressed in a particularly light and fast rhythm. If he,
the poet, could re-live, in his imagination, the girl's song, he too could
become the great creator - and, like Kubla, a figure of power, of magic and
mystery and even of holy enchantment, because he represents the land of
milk and honey which was promised to Moses:

'And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
HIS FLASHING EYES, HIS FLOATING HAIR!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
AND DRUNK THE MILK OF PARADISE.' (ll.48-54)

Others would see him as divinely inspired and worship him. In such view of
the poem, it is very tempting to accept the critique that the poem is about
poetic inspiration - the river is seen as representing inspiration or
imagination. If the poet could recapture his vision of this paradise, he
too could become the inspired magical creator.

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