Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This page is dedicated to Mr. Newcombe, my math teacher. Selections taken from the superb edition edited by I.A. Richards: THe Portable Coleridge The Viking Press, New York, Terra, 1950
Kubla Khan
In Xanadu 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, 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! 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 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 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: And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far ancestral voices prophesying war! The shadow of the dome of pleasure Floated midway on the waves; Where was heard the mingled measure From the fountain and the caves. 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 played, Singing of Mount Abora. Could I receive within me her 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 circle round him thrice, and close your eyes with holy dread For he on honey-dew hath fed and drunk the milk of Paradise.
Seaward, white-gleaming thro' the busy scud With arching Wings, the sea-mew o'er my head Posts on, as bent on speed, now passaging Edges the stiffer Breze, now, yielding, drifts, Now floats upon the air, and sends from far A wildly-wailing Note.
Stop, Christian passer-by!--Stop, child of God, And read with gentle breast. Beneath this sod A poet lies, or that which once seem'd he. O, lift one thought of prayer for S. T. C.; That he who many a year with toil of breath found death in life, may here find life in death! Mercy for praise -- to be forgiven for fame he ask'd, and hoped, through Christ. Do thou, the same!
9th Novemeber 1833 Back to the POETRY page To the MUSE's poetry page Back to the m-a-c page Return to the HOME page

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