Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


sinuous – twisting
cedarn – cedar
chaffy – teasingly
dulcimer – an hourglass shaped instrument

Questions and Answers

1. With what meter and rhyme schemes does Coleridge achieve musical and rhythmic sound?
The poem is written in iambic tetrameter. The first stanza has a rhyme scheme of

The second stanza has a rhyme scheme of
A/B/A/A/B/C/C/D/D/F/F/G/G/H/I/I/H/J/J, expanding upon the scheme from the previous stanza.

The third stanza has a scheme of A/B/A/B/C/C, while the fourth has a scheme of A/B/C/C/B/D/E/D/E/F/G/F/F/F/G/H/H/G.

2. How does the fourth stanza differ in content from the poem’s first three stanzas?
In the first three stanzas, the speaker is explaining a vision of Xanadu to readers. In the poem’s concluding stanza, he is stating the poem’s theme as a whole.

3. “Five miles meandering with a mazy motion” is an example of what literary device?
The repetition of the ‘m’ sound is called alliteration.

4. According to the introduction to Coleridge’s poetry, what may have aided him in making this poem so fantastical?
According to the introduction, Coleridge had a longtime addiction to narcotics. Coleridge admitted this poem was inspired by an opium dream, which may explain some of its strange and nonsensical content.

5. As mentioned in the introduction, the poem’s final stanza was written after an interruption from a man from Porlock. What, after reading the poem, could the man be considered a metaphor of?
Answers may vary. Example: The speaker’s interruption by the man signifies the interruption of genius and inspiration. The man may be a metaphor for the interruptions thrown by the world into the way of creativity and visionary grandeur.

6. In the third stanza, the speaker wishes he could recreate the vision of Xanadu he had. Out of what does he imagine he would build this place?
The speaker tells the reader he had a dream of “a damsel with a dulcimer” who could play and sing a song that enchanted him. He believes he could build Xanadu out of the beauty of this music he once heard.

7. At the end of the poem, why does the speaker believe others would be fearful of the creator of this “dome in the air”?
Others may be fearful of the creator’s “flashing eyes” and “ his floating hair,” but most especially they would fear that fact that “he on honey-dew hath fed,” and that he has “drunk the milk of Paradise.”

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