Saturday, 30 November 2013

Articles Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge



Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  
When Mary, the alien stepped into the Hub with Toshiko towards the end of the episode ‘Greeks Bearing Gifts’ she began to recite a poem.

‘...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.’
                                                                                                                                               
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet born 21st October 1772 and died 25th July 1834.
Kubla Khan’ is a poem that was written by Coleridge in 1797 and wasn’t published until 1816 on the prompting of his great friend George Gordon Byron. 
Coleridge wrote the poem while under the influence of laudanum, a prescribed medicine for his ill health. He was said to have been reading a book by Samuel Purchas - Purchas, his Pilgrimage or Relations of the World and Religions Observed in All Ages and Places Discovered, from the Creation to the Present.
The portion of the book told of the Mongol ruler and his summer Palace in Xanadu, which Marco Polo had visited on his explorations of the world.  It was while reading the book that the vision of the poem came to him.  But a man who naturally wrote poems with over 200 lines, only managed 54 lines before he was said to have been interrupted by a ‘Man from Porlock’. 

There are many who have speculated over this phrase, ‘A Man from Porlock’, as to whether it were a man at all, and that perhaps as with most great writers, of poetry or prose, that perhaps it was merely writer’s block that prevented the poem from exceeding 54 lines.

But here it is the poem in its entirety.

Kubla Khan, or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment

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.


To find out more about the poem and its history, visit:






















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