S.T. Coleridge

 Kubla Khan

   A Vision in a Dream
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately Pleasure-Dome decree, Where Alph, the sacred river ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers was 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 slanted Down the green hill, athwart a cedarn cover: A savage place! As holy and enchanted As e’er beneath the waning moon was haunted By 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 burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail; And ‘midst these dancing rocks at once and ever, It flung up momently the sacred river! Five miles meandering with ever 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, Kublai heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war! 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! 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. Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such deep delight ‘twould win me That with music loud and long, I would build that dome within the air! That sunny dome, those caves of ice, And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry: “Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle ’round him thrice, And close your eyes in holy dread: For he on honeydew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise!”

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The poem was completed in 1797 and published in "Christabel, Kubla Khan,
and The Pains of Sleep" in 1816. According to Coleridge's Preface to Kubla
Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium
influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace
of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan.
Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from
the dream until he was interrupted by an unexpected visitor. The poem could
not be completed as the interruption caused him to forget the lines.
He left it unpublished until 1816 when, on the prompting by Lord Byron,
it was published.

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©  Gaston D'Haese: 13-01-2012.
Update: 16-01-2016.