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Writing[ edit ] Coleridge, In September , Coleridge lived in Nether Stowey in the south west of England and spent much of his time walking through the nearby Quantock Hills with his fellow poet William Wordsworth and Wordsworth's sister Dorothy ;  His route today is memorialised as the " Coleridge Way ".
Some time between 9 and 14 October , when Coleridge says he had completed the tragedy, he left Stowey for Lynton. On his return, he became sick and rested at Ash Farm, located at Culbone Church and one of the few places to seek shelter on his route. In the summer of the year , the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in ' Purchas's Pilgrimes: On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved.
At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock , and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast, but, alas!
Then all the charm Is broken—all that phantom-world so fair Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread, And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile, Poor youth! Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had been originally, as it were, given to him.
As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and disease. It was northeast of Cambalu , or modern-day Beijing. The book contained a brief description of Xanadu , the summer capital of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. The text about Xanadu in Purchas, His Pilgrimes, which Coleridge admitted he did not remember exactly, was: In Xandu did Cublai Can build a stately Pallace, encompassing sixteen miles of plaine ground with a wall, wherein are fertile Meddowes, pleasant Springs, delightfull streames, and all sorts of beasts of chase and game, and in the middest thereof a sumptuous house of pleasure, which may be moved from place to place.
In about —, he dictated a description of Xanadu which includes these lines: And when you have ridden three days from the city last mentioned Cambalu , or modern Beijing , between north-east and north, you come to a city called Chandu, which was built by the Khan now reigning. There is at this place a very fine marble Palace, the rooms of which are all gilt and painted with figures of men and beasts and birds, and with a variety of trees and flowers, all executed with such exquisite art that you regard them with delight and astonishment.
Round this Palace a wall is built, inclosing a compass of 16 miles, and inside the Park there are fountains and rivers and brooks, and beautiful meadows, with all kinds of wild animals excluding such as are of ferocious nature , which the Emperor has procured and placed there to supply food for his gerfalcons and hawks, which he keeps there in mew.
He described it this way: Moreover at a spot in the Park where there is a charming wood he has another Palace built of cane, of which I must give you a description. It is gilt all over, and most elaborately finished inside. It is stayed on gilt and lackered columns, on each of which is a dragon all gilt, the tail of which is attached to the column whilst the head supports the architrave, and the claws likewise are stretched out right and left to support the architrave.
The roof, like the rest, is formed of canes, covered with a varnish so strong and excellent that no amount of rain will rot them. These canes are a good 3 palms in girth, and from 10 to 15 paces in length. They are cut across at each knot, and then the pieces are split so as to form from each two hollow tiles, and with these the house is roofed; only every such tile of cane has to be nailed down to prevent the wind from lifting it.
In short, the whole Palace is built of these canes, which I may mention serve also for a great variety of other useful purposes. The construction of the Palace is so devised that it can be taken down and put up again with great celerity; and it can all be taken to pieces and removed whithersoever the Emperor may command.
When erected, it is braced against mishaps from the wind by more than cords of silk. The Lord abides at this Park of his, dwelling sometimes in the Marble Palace and sometimes in the Cane Palace for three months of the year, to wit, June, July, and August; preferring this residence because it is by no means hot; in fact it is a very cool place.
When the 28th day of the Moon of August arrives he takes his departure, and the Cane Palace is taken to pieces. Crewe Manuscript[ edit ] The Crewe Manuscript, handwritten by Coleridge himself some time before the poem was published in In , a copy of the poem written by Coleridge himself sometime before its publication in was discovered in a private library. The so-called Crewe Manuscript was sent by Coleridge to a Mrs. Southey, who later gave it or sold it to a private autograph collector.
It was auctioned in and purchased by another autograph collector for the price of one pound fifteen pence. For example, Coleridge changed the size and description of the garden: So twice six miles of fertile ground With Walls and Towers were compass'd round.
Crewe Manuscript compared with: So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round. From forth this Chasm with hideous Turmoil seething Crewe Manuscript was changed to: And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething published text The most significant change came in the lines: Crewe Manuscript Which, in the published version, became: The first written record of the poem is in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, October It is possible that the poem was recited to his friends during this time and was kept for private use instead of publication.
However, the exact date of the poem is uncertain because Coleridge normally dated his poems but did not date Kubla Khan. May and October These were both times he was in the area, and, by , Coleridge was able to read Robert Southey 's Thalaba the Destroyer, a work which also drew on Purchas's work. It is possible that he merely edited the poem during those time periods, and there is little evidence to suggest that Coleridge lied about the opium-induced experience at Ash Farm.
Leigh Hunt , the poet and essayist, witnessed the event and wrote, "He recited his 'Kubla Khan' one morning to Lord Byron, in his Lordship's house in Piccadilly, when I happened to be in another room. I remember the other's coming away from him, highly struck with his poem, and saying how wonderfully he talked. This was the impression of everyone who heard him.
A contract was drawn up on 12 April for 80 pounds.
However, not everyone was happy with the idea of the poem's being published, as Coleridge's wife, who was not with him, wrote to Thomas Poole , "Oh! In some later anthologies of Coleridge's poetry, the Preface is dropped along with the subtitle denoting its fragmentary and dream nature. Sometimes, the Preface is included in modern editions but lacks both the first and final paragraphs. While incomplete and subtitled a "fragment", its language is highly stylised with a strong emphasis on sound devices that change between the poem's original two stanzas.
The first stanza of the poem describes Khan's pleasure dome built alongside a sacred river fed by a powerful fountain.
The second stanza of the poem is the narrator's response to the power and effects of an Abyssinian maid's song, which enraptures him but leaves him unable to act on her inspiration unless he could hear her once again.
Together, they form a comparison of creative power that does not work with nature and creative power that is harmonious with nature. The poem according to Coleridge's account, is a fragment of what it should have been, amounting to what he was able to jot down from memory: The second stanza is not necessarily part of the original dream and refers to the dream in the past tense.
The poem relies on many sound-based techniques, including cognate variation and chiasmus. Its rhyme scheme found in the first seven lines is repeated in the first seven lines of the second stanza. There is a heavy use of assonance , the reuse of vowel sounds, and a reliance on alliteration, repetition of the first sound of a word, within the poem including the first line: The stressed sounds, "Xan", "du", "Ku", "Khan", contain assonance in their use of the sounds a-u-u-a, have two rhyming syllables with "Xan" and "Khan", and employ alliteration with the name "Kubla Khan" and the reuse of "d" sounds in "Xanadu" and "did".
To pull the line together, the "i" sound of "In" is repeated in "did". Later lines do not contain the same amount of symmetry but do rely on assonance and rhymes throughout. The only word that has no true connection to another word is "dome" except in its use of a "d" sound. Though the lines are interconnected, the rhyme scheme and line lengths are irregular.
The lines of the second stanza incorporate lighter stresses to increase the speed of the meter to separate them from the hammer-like rhythm of the previous lines.
After reading from Purchas's book,  "The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he had the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two or three hundred lines On Awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved.
Instead, the effects of the opium, as described, are intended to suggest that he was not used to its effects. It was a rare book, unlikely to be at a "lonely farmhouse", nor would an individual carry it on a journey; the folio was heavy and almost pages in size.
As a symbol within the preface, the person represents the obligations of the real world crashing down upon the creative world or other factors that kept Coleridge from finishing his poetry. The claim to produce poetry after dreaming of it became popular after "Kubla Khan" was published. Rauber claimed that the man was "necessary to create the illusion of the cut short rather than the stopped".
When the Preface is dropped, the poem seems to compare the act of poetry with the might of Kubla Khan instead of the loss of inspiration causing the work to have a more complex depiction of the poetic power.
Taken together, the Preface could connect with the first half of the poem to suggest that the poem is from the view of a dreaming narrator,  or it could connect with the second half of the poem to show how a reader is to interpret the lines by connecting himself with the persona in a negative manner.
The poet of the Preface is a dreamer who must write and the poet of the poem is a vocal individual, but both are poets who lose inspiration. Only the poet of the poem feels that he can recover the vision, and the Preface, like a Coleridge poem that is quoted in it, The Picture, states that visions are unrecoverable.
Although the land is one of man-made "pleasure", there is a natural, "sacred" river that runs past it. The lines describing the river have a markedly different rhythm from the rest of the passage: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. The finite properties of the constructed walls of Xanadu are contrasted with the infinite properties of the natural caves through which the river runs.
So twice five miles of fertile ground With 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. The version published in reads: And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, While the holograph copy handwritten by Coleridge himself the Crewe manuscript, shown at the right says: And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,  The poem expands on the gothic hints of the first stanza as the narrator explores the dark chasm in the midst of Xanadu's gardens, and describes the surrounding area as both "savage" and "holy".
Yarlott interprets this chasm as symbolic of the poet struggling with decadence that ignores nature. Fountains are often symbolic of the inception of life, and in this case may represent forceful creativity.
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 reached the caverns measureless to man, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: Yarlott argues that the war represents the penalty for seeking pleasure, or simply the confrontation of the present by the past: The vision of the sites, including the dome, the cavern, and the fountain, are similar to an apocalyptic vision.
Together, the natural and man-made structures form a miracle of nature as they represent the mixing of opposites together, the essence of creativity: