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Kubla Khan
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Home Poetry Kubla Khan Summary Stanza I (Lines 1-11)
Intro The Poem Summary Analysis Themes Quotes Study Questions Best of the Web How to Read a Poem Summary
Summary
Chapter Summaries
Stanza I (Lines 1-11)
Stanza II (Lines 12-30)
Stanza III (Lines 31-54)

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Table of Contents
Stanza II (Lines 12-30) Summary
The Poem Summary
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Stanza I (Lines 1-11) Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line. Lines 1-2

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:

Here's the famous opener.
This line gets a lot of work done quickly. It introduces us to the title character (Kubla Khan), and begins to describe the amazing setting of the poem (Xanadu). That "stately pleasure dome decree" means that he had a really fancy and beautiful palace built. We want you to know right away that Coleridge is actually talking about a real place and a real guy. Kubla Khan was the grandson of the legendary Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, and he built a summer palace (called Xanadu, in English) in Mongolia. Marco Polo visited Xanadu, and helped to start the legend of its magnificence. We're starting with actual history here, although by Coleridge's time Xanadu is already a bit of a legend. Keep this little historical nugget in mind, as you read. Does this feel like a real place and a real person? Or does it seem completely imaginary? Maybe a little of both? Lines 3-5

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns...
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