Imagination in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner versus Kubla Khan

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To the Romantics, the imagination was important. It was the core and foundation of everything they thought about, believed in, and even they way they perceived God itself. The leaders of the Romantic Movement were undoubtedly Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his close friend, William Wordsworth. Both were poets, and both wrote about the imagination. Wordsworth usually wrote about those close to nature, and therefore, in the minds of the Romantics, deeper into the imagination than the ordinary man. Coleridge, however, was to write about the supernatural, how nature extended past the depth of the rational mind.

In two works by Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, both works regard the imagination as vitally important. In
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If one being kills merely for the sake of killing, they have just taken another being out of the frame of the imagination. The imagination replies in an abrupt manner – it simply expels said being from the web of the imagination. Without the imagination, there becomes no religion, no friendship, no communication, and since the imagination is synonymous with life, without the imagination, the being ceases to exist, not die, just stop living: “And I blessed them unaware. The selfsame moment I could pray, And from my neck so free the Albatross fell off, and sank like lead into the sea… each turned his face with a ghastly pang, and cursed me with his eye… all dumb we stood… I pass, like night, from land to land”.

There are key differences in the function and style of Kubla Khan to the workings of the imagination in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Instead of being a force that causes sterility, suffering, and loneliness, in Kubla Khan the imagination becomes a creative, imaginative, fecundative force. It has the power to create not just emotions and feelings, but with the right tools, can create tangible works of immense power that cannot be rivaled: “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”. “As if this earth in fast thick pants