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Kubla Khan

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  • Kubla Khan

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Kubla Khan
    Still easy questions!
    Worksheet by:
    Keith Tankard
    Knowledge4Africa.com
    The poet emphasizes the magical quality of the land of Xanadu. The chasm into which the River Alph
    plunges is said to be "romantic". The forests are made up of cedars, trees which have particular
    significance in the Bible. The place, the poet says, is "savage" and yet "holy" and "enchanted". There is
    also a "waning moon" -- the moon which is often connected with both romance and demons.
    Furthermore, the place is "haunted" by a woman who wails for her "demon-lover".
    One author suggests that the poet is referring here to magical places where people could easily disappear
    because of the presence of spells, leaving the women weeping for their return. Werewolves and other
    such monsters are associated with the waxing and waning moons. The place is also in a state of great
    physical unrest. A mighty fountain of water jets up from the chasm in gusts as if it is panting. W ithin this
    water are huge fragments -- ice? rocks? -- which are flung into the air and then, falling back, bounce
    around the ground like hail, or like wheat which flies around when being hit by the thresher's flail.
    From there the river meanders for five miles until it reaches the caves, where it falls in a great cataract
    into the underground sea. Into this cacophony of sound Kubla Khan hears the voices of the ancestors
    prophesying war. The poet, however, was disturbed and, when he returned, the dream was already
    fading. Instead he takes up another but totally unconnected theme -- that of a young Abyssinian girl who
    is playing on her dulcimer.
    1. "But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!"
    • The poet speaks of a "cedarn cover"? W hy would the poet have particularly chosen cedar
    trees? (2)
    2. "A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
    By woman wailing for her demon-lover!"
    • The pleasure dome is contrasted with the "savage place". W hat words show this
    contrast? (4)
    3. "And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
    As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
    A mighty fountain momently was forced:
    Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
    Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
    Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
    And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
    It flung up momently the sacred river."
    • Xanadu is also described as a threatening place, a land of uncontrolled violence and chaos.
    What words show this? (4)
    4. "Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
    Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
    Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
    And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!"
    • Name the language device (figure of speech) used in the first line above and then explain its
    purpose. (4)
    • Why would the poet fall into a repetition of images here: speaking again about the caverns
    measureless to man and the lifeless ocean? And what about old Kubla hearing these voices
    that were prophesying war? (4)
    5. "The shadow of the dome of pleasure
    Floated midway on the waves;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
    From the fountain and the caves.
    It was a miracle of rare device,
    A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!"
    • How could the shadow of the dome of pleasure float "midway on the waves"? (4)
    • What was the miracle of "rare device"? (2)
    6. "A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora."
    • Where is Abyssinia? (2)
    • Would there be any reason why the poet would have dreamt of an Abyssinian maid? (4)
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