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kubla khan s t coleridge
Kubla KhanS. T. Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla KhanA stately pleasure-dome decree :Where Alph, the sacred river, ranThrough caverns measureless to manDown to a sunless sea.So twice five miles of fertile groundWith 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.

kubla khan
Kubla Khan

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slantedDown the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !A savage place ! as holy and enchantedAs e'er beneath a waning moon was hauntedBy 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 burstHuge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and everIt flung up momently the sacred river.

kubla khan1
Kubla Khan

Five miles meandering with a mazy motionThrough 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 farAncestral voices prophesying war !The shadow of the dome of pleasureFloated midway on the waves ;Where was heard the mingled measureFrom the fountain and the caves.It was a miracle of rare device,A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

kubla khan2
Kubla Khan

A damsel with a dulcimerIn a vision once I saw :It was an Abyssinian maid,And on her dulcimer she played,Singing of Mount Abora.Could I revive within meHer 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.


Rill: small stream

Sinuous: having many turns and curves

Cavern: a large cave or a chamber in a cave

Chasm: deep fissure in the earth’s surface

Slanted: sloped or leaned

Athwart: across

Cedarn: made of cedar


Turmoil: confusion

Seething: boiling

Ceaseless: without stop

Pant: short, quick breath

Momently: at any moment, continually

Vaulted: curved

Rebounding: bouncing back through the air after hitting something hard.


Hail: frozen rain

Chaffy: covered with seed cases

Thresher: a person or machine that separates grain from corn or other crops by beating.

flail: a threshing tool consisting of a wooden staff with a short heavy stick swinging from it.

Meandering: Zigzagging

Mazy: confused or dizzy


Dale: a valley

Tumult: a loud, confused noise, especially one caused by a large mass of people.

Damsel: a young unmarried woman.

Dulcimer: a musical instrument


This poem is a fragment because the poet could not finish it as he was interrupted by someone who knocked at his door and stopped the writing process. However, many critics consider it a full poem. The poem is highly lyrical one and very romantic.


Coleridge took opium as a kind of treatment for some disease and he slept. He claimed that this poem came to him in that dream. When he woke up, he started writing the poem, but could not finish it because someone knocked at the door and interrupted him. The poem remained unfinished as it is.

romantic elements in the poem
Romantic Elements in the Poem
  • Interest in far away places and people.
  • Interest in the East.
  • The celebration of the nature and the natural scene.
  • Interest in the picturesque (nature untouched by man).
  • The use of the subjective ‘I’.
  • The use of the supernatural.





pleasure-dome: desires

The milk of paradise: pleasure



Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion


A damsel with a dulcimer

symphony and song,


The milk of paradise