Opioids, Industrialism, and Decadence: An Autobiographical Reading of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" College
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan follows the journey of a Mongol emperor through Xanadu, an ancient capital city described through themes of nature, decadence, and human dreams and visions. While the poem may seem justified for the time as Coleridge was a part of the Romantics, its intense imagery and overall odd descriptiveness is the result of an opioid-infused dream. Coleridge awoke from his dream and immediately began writing Kubla Khan, however, he was interrupted by a visitor and stopped writing because he could not remember the rest of the dream. Prior to reading Coleridge’s biography, and prior to knowing the poem was written under the influence of an opioid drug, the imagery present in Kubla Khan seemed as though it just aimed to break boundaries for a new era of poetry, one that didn’t need to follow rules or preexisting norms. After learning of Coleridge’s lifestyle, however, Kubla Khan seems to express a vision of decadence unknown to most, one that is demonstrated through nature imagery.
Coleridge begins the poem by describing the palace of Xanadu and its surrounding area with great admiration. He uses words such as “sacred,” “measureless,” and “sunless” to express the unparalleled sublimity of the area, a...
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