Kubla Khan

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For the emperor, see Kublai Khan.

"Kubla Khan", whose complete title is "Kubla Khan, or a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.", is a famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge which takes its title from the Mongol/Chinese emperor Kublai Khan of the Yuan dynasty. Coleridge claimed that it was written in the autumn of 1797 at a farmhouse near Exmoor, but it may have been composed on one of a number of other visits to the farm. It may also have been revised a number of times before it was first published in 1816.

The poem's opening lines are often quoted, and it introduces the name Xanadu (or Shangdu, the summer palace of Kublai Khan):

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.

Coleridge claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream (implicit in the poem's subtitle A Vision in a Dream), but that the composition was interrupted by the person from Porlock. This claim seems unlikely, as most opium users have tremendous difficulty recalling dreams when opium was ingested just prior to sleeping. Some have speculated that the vivid imagery of the poem stems from a waking hallucination, albeit most likely opium-induced. Additionally a quote from William Bartram [1] is believed to have been a source of the poem. There is widespread speculation on the poem's meaning, some suggesting the author merely is portraying his vision while others insist on a theme or purpose. Others believe it is a poem stressing the beauty of creation.

The poem is perhaps most famous for its closing lines (lines 53–54), where Coleridge is likely referring to himself attaining paradise through his poem:

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

[edit] In popular culture

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Kubla Khan

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