Coleridge's Poems

The Romantic Other; Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ Applied to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 'Kubla Khan' College

In both his poem ‘Kubla Khan’ and its accompanying prologue Samuel Taylor Coleridge presents two ideas: the variable nature of the imagination and the beauty of the foreign and exotic. Many scholars view the story behind the poem’s composition as not only one of the most significant events in both the Romantic Movement but in Literature as a whole. Gregory Leadbetter, for example, states that “It is its own creation myth.”[1] In no way, however, should this “myth” surrounding the discovery and loss of inspiration overshadow or distract from the poem itself as it is one where Coleridge shows great poetic ability as well as illustrating what Edward Said would later go on to call “Orientalism”.

In the prologue Coleridge explains how he composed the poem after a dream “in which all the images [of the poem] rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions”.[2] This dream supposedly provided Coleridge with between two to three hundred lines of the poem. Coleridge, however, would only write fifty-four due to a barely explained interruption. This fragmentation of the poem is greatly important in itself due to the implications it has on the limits of the imagination. There is a sense that...

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