Coleridge's Poems

dreams constituted a recurrent motif in coleridge's poetry

discuss with reference to "kubla khan"

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One night, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wasn't feeling all that great. To dull the pain, he took a dose of laudanum, a preparation of opium used as a medicine in the 19th century. He fell asleep and had a strange dream about a Mongol emperor named Kubla Khan. Coleridge dreamed that he was actually writing a poem in his sleep, and when he woke up after a few hours, he sat down to record the dream poem. He meant to write several hundred lines, but he was interrupted by someone who had come to see him on business. When he came back to the poem, he had forgotten the rest. The lines he did manage to scribble out turned into one of the most famous and enduring poems in English literary history. (You can read more on about Coleridge's inspiration for "Kubla Khan" here.)

Not your average night, maybe, but why should we care about this story? Well, Coleridge wasn't just a guy with the flu who happened to have a weird dream. He was a famous poet, one of a group we now know as the Romantics. He was a particularly good friend of the poet William Wordsworth, and together they published a collection of poems called Lyrical Ballads. "Kubla Khan" was first published in a collection called Christabel, Kubla Khan: A Vision, and the Pains of Sleep, and it kicked off the Romantic movement. The Romantics were interested in writing about nature, and they wanted to escape the old, traditional forms of English poetry. "Kubla Khan," with its interesting rhyme scheme, variable line lengths, and intense focus on nature, is both a good example of Romantic poetry and proof that even your weird dreams can be turned into a masterpiece.