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A comparison between the 2ndstanza of ‘Love Among the Ruins’ and ‘Kubla Khan’<br />
I xanadu did Kubla Khan<br />a stately pleasure dome decree..<br />So twice five miles of fertile groundWith walls and towers were girdled round:And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;And here were forests ancient as the hills,Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slantedDown the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!A savage place! as holy and enchantedAs e'er beneath a waning moon was hauntedBy woman wailing for her demon-lover!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 burstHuge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and everIt flung up momently the sacred river.Five miles meandering with a mazy motionThrough 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 farAncestral voices prophesying war!<br />Now the country does not even boast a tree, <br />As you see, <br />To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills <br />From the hills <br />Intersect and give a name to, (else they run <br />Into one) <br />Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires <br />Up like fires <br />O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall <br />Bounding all <br />Made of marble, men might march on nor be pressed <br />Twelve abreast. <br />
Browning = Victorian poet with Romantic sympathies,<br />He draws on ‘Kubla Khan’ but manipulates /adapts it<br />Coleridge is celebrating of the power of the imagination to reanimate the past (he build the dome in words which will last forever) <br />Browning is saying that man’s ambition and pursuit of glory and power are doomed – the ruins prove that. <br />Browning’s dome / towers = backdrop for a domestic, intimate vision, that ‘love is best’.<br />So the poems share imagery and focus on the past but have different poetic visions to express.<br />
Browning, as a Victorian poet with Romantic sympathies, evokes Coleridge’s fragment poem ‘Kubla Khan’ in ‘Love Among the Ruins’, but in doing so he manipulates and adapts the original imagery in such a way that his ‘dome’ becomes not a celebration of the power of the imagination to reanimate the past, so much as a reminder that man’s ambition and pursuit of glory and power are doomed. The ruins of the city become instead a poignant backdrop, serving to underscore a much more domestic, intimate and hopeful vision, that ultimately, ‘love is best’.<br />
Make the rest of your case by comparison and close reading<br />
The fact that both poems employ the past tense is notable although for Coleridge the exotic setting of Xanadu, coupled with the strange dream like quality of his opium inspired ballad, mean that the landscape evoked is fantastical and otherworldly (thus resisting a clear sense of time or place) while Browning’s verse is rooted in the historical ruins of the Roman campagna which he explored during his residence in the 1850s. Browning seeks to synthesize the heyday of the metropolis with the reclamation of that space by nature, giving the reader a concrete sense of where and when the poem unfolds. His movement between the present and past serves only to emphasize that the past has gone forever, rather than to reconstruct it in poetic form.<br />
Nonetheless, the poems share much in terms of imagery. Both poets choose to present ‘domes’ which are ‘girdled round’ or ‘bounded’ by walls to make the distinction between the wilds of nature and man’s attempt to civilise the world through architecture and force of will. The sheer scale of the structures are emphasized; the Khan’s domain spans ‘five miles of fertile ground’ while Browning’s lost city wall was ‘hundred gated’. Even the surrounding lands share ‘rills’ and a sense of nature as animate and potent. However, Kubla Khan must carve his structure out of this sublime landscape which is built in words as the poem proceeds while Browning’s city is already in place and the verdant hills are only now beginning to recover from the scars left by the city; it is notable that the terrain does ‘not even boast a tree’.<br />
A further distinction is in the differing emphasis on meter and form. Coleridge makes use of strident tetrameter which drives onward to evoke the repressed force of ‘Alph, the sacred river’ as it winds its way through the land which the pleasure dome lays claim to, while Browning alternates between measured, soporific pentameter and a more jolting dimeter, creating a verse form that seems at odds with its own internal dynamics. The sleepy pastoral scene established in the first half of each stanza grates against the revivification of the city in the second half so that the poem, rather than presenting a struggle between nature and man as in Coleridge's poem, offers instead an oscillating tension between past and present.<br />
To conclude, the narrative perspective and imagery of ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘Love Among the Ruins’ reflect Browning’s familiarity and respect for the Romantic movement but he is very much his own man. The bold differences in verse form and the emphasis upon the failings of man’s attempt to stamp his mark upon the face of nature, afford him an opportunity find a new voice for a new time – as the title of the poem foreshadows all too well – it is the discovery of ‘love’ among ruins that becomes the nucleus of his poetic vision and not the ruins themselves.<br />