Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Crewe Manuscript of "Kubla Khan"

In Xannadu did Cubla Khan
A stately Pleasure-Dome decree;
Where Alph, the sacred River, ran
Thro' Caverns measureless to Man
Down to a sunless Sea.
So twice six miles of fertile ground
With Walls and Towers were compass'd round:
And here were Gardens bright with sinuous Rills
Where blossom'd many an incense-bearing Tree,
And here were Forests ancient as the Hills
Enfolding sunny spots of Greenery.
But o! that deep romantic Chasm, that slanted
Down a green Hill athwart a cedarn Cover,
A savage Place, as holy and inchanted
As e'er beneath a waning Moon was haunted
By Woman wailing for her Daemon Lover:
From forth [1] this chasm with hideous Turmoil seething,
As if this Earth in fast thick Pants were breathing,
A mighty Fountain momently was forc'd,
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 & ever
It flung up momently the sacred River:
Five miles meandering with a mazy Motion
Thro' Wood and Dale the sacred River ran,
Then reach'd the Caverns measureless to Man
And sank in Tumult to a Lifeless Ocean;
And mid this Tumult Cubla heard from far
Ancestral Voices prophesying War.
     The Shadow of the Dome of Pleasure
     Floated midway on the Wave
     Where was heard the mingled Measure
     From the Fountain and the Cave.
It was a miracle of rare Device,
A sunny Pleasure-Dome with Caves of Ice!

A Damsel with a Dulcimer
In a Vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian Maid,
And on her Dulcimer she play'd
Singing of Mount Amara.
Could I revive within me
Her Symphony & 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 in holy Dread:
For He on Honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the Milk of Paradise.______

This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of Reverie brought on by two grains of opium, taken to check a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock & Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone Church, in the fall of the year 1797.______
S.T. Coleridge

Editor's Note

[1]"From forth" replaces "And from," which has been scratched out.[1]

From Purchas, Pilgrimage (1614)

The entire paragraph that Coleridge quotes from in his 1816 "Preface" to "Kubla Khan," which appeared in Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep (London, 1816).

In Xanadu did Cublai Can build a stately Pallace, encompassing sixteene miles of plaine ground with a wall, wherein are fertile Meddows, pleasant Springs, delightful Streames, and all sorts of beasts of chase and game, and in the midst thereof a sumptuous house of pleasure, which may be removed from place to place. Here he doth abide in the months of June, July, and August, on the eighth and twentieth day whereof, he departeth thence to another place to do sacrifice in this manner: He hath A herd or Drove of Horses and Mares, about ten thousand, as white as snow; of the milke whereof none may taste, except he be of the blood of Cingis Can. Yea, the Tartars do these beasts great reverence, nor dare any cross their way, or go before them. According to the directions of his Astrologers or Magicians, he on the eight and and twentieth day of August aforesaid, spendeth and poureth forth with his own hands the milke of these Mares in the aire, and on the earth, to give drink to the spirits and Idols which they worship, that they may preserve the men, women, beasts, birds, corne, and other things growing on the earth.