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XANADU

THE BALLAD OF KUBLA KHAN

Poem by 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 blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree.

And here were forests as ancient as the hills,

enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

 

But O! 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 reach'd the caverns measureless to man,

and sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean.

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from afar

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.

 

(If this copy is not 100% correct, please send amendments by e-mail)

Zyra's site //// CONCEPTS //// SITE INDEX //// poetry

More about XANADU //// others called "Xanadu" //// Xanadu DISCOVERED! //// Xanadu by name

Also see mention of the River Alphus on the page Xanadu Discovered

The emperor was Kublai Khan, and the poet's variation of the name is "Kubla Khan". He was a famous Mongolian emperor and probably wrote his name in Ancient Mongolian (Phags-pa) which doesn't have the same letters as the Latin alphabet, so the spelling is a moot point. You see the same thing with Greek place names, where their spelling in English is somewhat variable. That's because they are spelt in Greek characters, which don't necessarily have a one-to-one relationship with A..Z.