Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Romantic Movement changed the way art and literature represented the world by focusing on emotions, nature, and imagination. This emphasis can be seen in the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the most inﬂuential poets of the era. In his poem “Kubla Khan,” Coleridge used dreamlike imagery to describe the fabulous palace of a Mongol emperor. The poem shows the author’s interest in the mysterious and the exotic, as well as the beauty and savagery of nature. T H I N K T H R O U G H H I S T O R Y : Clarifying
How does Coleridge describe Kublai (also Kubla) Khan’s palace and the grounds surrounding it?
In Xanadu1 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,2
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!3
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 momently4 was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted5 burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s ﬂail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
Xanadu: Shangdu, one of Kublai Khan’s residences in what is now northern China sinuous rills: winding streams
athwart a cedarn cover: across a grove of cedar trees
momently: at every moment
World History: Patterns of Interaction © McDougal Littell Inc.
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