Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Transcript Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In Xanadu2 did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome3 decree4:
Where Alph5, 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 girdled6 round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills7,
Where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
1. Kubla khan(1216 ～ 1294)was the grandson of Genghis Khan and was the
founder of the Mongol Dynasty in China. “Khan” was the supreme ruler of
Turkish, Tartar and Mongol tribes, and emperors of China in the Mongol
2. Xanadu: It might be Shandu, a place in Inner Mongolia, where Kubla Khan
built his court when he came to power in 1260 and four years later made it the
3. pleasure-dome: a great round-topped palace for entertainment
4. decree: order
5. Alph: an imaginary river
6. girdled: surrounded
7. sinous rills: winding brooks
But oh! that deep romantic chasm8 which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!9
A savage10 place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!11
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething12,
As if this earth in fast thick pants13 were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently14 was forced15:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted16 burst
Huge fragments17 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.
8. chasm: deep opening in rock
9. athwart a cedarn cover: passing through a place covered by cedar trees
10. savage: wild
11. As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted/By women wailing for her demonlover: The place was frequently visited by a women who used to cry under the
waning moon for the return of her lover from death. This description adds to the
savage place a romantic and mysterious atmosphere.
12. seething: boiling; (the water was) tumbling as if boiling
13. thick pants: short, violent and difficult breaths in quick succession
14. momently: every moment
15. was forced: spurted out; gushes out; spouted out
16. half-intermitted: half-interrupted
17. Huge fragments: huge gushes of water
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion18
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 tumult19 Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow20 of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure21
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
18. Five miles meandering with a mazy motion: flowing
five miles slowly with a winding motion. This is a
typical example of alliteration. The “m” sound here
suggests the twisting movement of the river.
19. tumult: state of confusion and noble excitement
20. shadow: reflection
21. measure: music
A damsel22 with a dulcimer23
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian24 maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora25.
Could I revive26 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 hair27!
Weave a circle round him thrice28,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
23. dulcimer: a musical instrument with strings struck by two hammers
24. Abyssinian: of Abyssinia, the old name for Ethiopia
25. Mount Abora: an imaginary mount
26. Could I revive: If I could sing (the song that the maiden sang)
27. His flashing eyes, his floating hair: The poet, getting inspiration from Muses, is
like one with magic charm, his eyes shining, his hair floating in the air.
28. Weave a circle round him thrice: People in old times believed that he who was
bewitched by evil spirits or witches could be separated from other people by drawing
a circle around him three times.
Besides The Ancient Mariner, another of his well
known poems is “Kubla Khan” , which is also
collected in Lyrical Ballads. It is an unfinished poem
of 54 lines. He claimed that one day in his dream he
composed a poem of 200 ～ 300 lines when he was
taking a nap. On waking up he hurriedly found his
pen and wanted to write them down but he was
interrupted by an unexpected guest and he stopped
at the 54th line. The poem is written in lines of
irregular meters and rhyme scheme.
While Wordsworth tried to make his readers
aware of the wonderfulness of everyday life,
Coleridge tried to show the relevance of the strange
and mysterious to our consciousness of reality.
“Kubla Khan,” with its wonderful music and its
strange Oriental images, captures the imagination
of readers, though the meaning of the poem has
been the subject of much discussion.