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Kubla Khan
Samuel Taylor Coleridge


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 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 slanted
   Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
   A savage place! as holy and enchanted
          As e’er beneath a 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 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
   It flung up momently the sacred river.
          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!
          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 a deep delight ’twould win me,
          That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in 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 with holy dread,
   For he on honey-dew hath fed,
   And drunk the milk of Paradise.

This poem is in the public domain.



Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 –1834) was an English poet, literary critic and lecturer, and is considered one of the most influential  poets of the Romantic period. A loner who loved to read and enjoyed writing poetry even as a child, Samuel suffered from poor health throughout his entire life—a condition not helped by his addiction to opium and his ongoing depression. His was not a happy life, but he left behind a significant legacy.


Post New Comment:
I like this poem. I wrote a palimpsest of it once and enjoyed its rhythm.
Posted 09/23/2013 12:55 PM
so glad you gave us a little homework. I haven't read this poem in years and really enjoyed it...Thank you
Posted 09/23/2013 09:32 AM
Oh, yes. A relentlessly wonderful poem. "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 a waning moon was haunted' By woman wailing for her demon lover!/ . . .
Posted 09/23/2013 08:47 AM
Larry Schug:
It's too bad we've mushed up the meaning of the word "Romantic". We wouldn't have the environmental esthetic without them. They taught us how to appreciate nature in more than a utilitarian way.
Posted 09/23/2013 07:47 AM
Great to read this old classic, and let the imagination soar.
Posted 09/23/2013 07:21 AM
Hadn't read this for years! I love its music.
Posted 09/23/2013 07:11 AM
I have a hard time imagining a reader who would willingly skip this one!
Posted 09/23/2013 06:05 AM
Ross Kightly:
Often reputed to stand in the shadow of the Colossus of Wordsworth, for my money [at his best] by far the more stimulating poet - Coleridge should not be held responsible for later linguistic evolutions that have made his 'thick pants' so amusing in this poem. The story of the Person from Porlock is also a good one when we are considering the nature of 'poetic inspiration' - excellent choice, this poem - thanks.
Posted 09/23/2013 04:39 AM

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