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.
There is considerable debate over whether this is indeed an incomplete poem and whether it was conceived, as Coleridge is said to have claimed, while he was under the influence of opium.
a mythical city hidden in a secret valley somewhere in the Himalayas
The Mongolian conqueror whose thirteenth-century empire stretched from European Russia to the eastern shores of China; the grandson of Genghis Khan.
a supposedly underground river, symbolic of a secret or forbidden body of knowledge
a tool used by a “thresher” to separate the useable and waste parts of the grain
a stringed instrument with strings that are struck with small wooden hammers
Ethiopian; the biblical Queen of Sheba came from a region of what is now Ethiopia in Northern Africa.
possibly an allusion to the Abyssinian legend of the hill Amara, a hill in Ethiopia, used as a prison for the sons of Abyssinian kings. Its level top is surrounded by a high wall and is an Eden-like garden of delight.
“And drunk the milk of Paradise.” – Here, Coleridge is describing the “madness” of the person who has had the transcendent experience, the vision of Reality, that was desired by the Romantics.
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