English - Background history
Just near Culbone Church, Somerset, Coleridge took two grains of Opium.
The resulting reverie was the stimulus for Kubla Khan.
Coleridge had apparently been reading from the text _Purchas his
Pilgrimage,_ which contains the following passage:
I_n Xamdu did Cublai Can build a stately Palace, encompassing sixteen
miles of plane 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
removed from place to place_.
While reading this text, Coleridge says he fell asleep and records the
following in what is known as the Crewe MS.:
_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 and Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone
Church, in the fall of the year, 1797._
He was supposed to have dreamt 300-400 of the actual lines of a poem, but
been interrupted (in one his versions of the story) by 'a person on
business from Porlock' before he could transcribe the words. Hence the
poem's reputation, and designation, as a 'fragment'.
But what is the poem about? It is worthwhile to know something of the
trends in its criticism. Until the mid-20th century, positive criticism of
the poem (and there was a lot not that was positive) saw it as a clever
exercise in sound, with no particular meaning that could be explained.
"Magic" and "music" were common words used to describe the poem.
Previous | Next
Log in to save your progress and obtain a certificate in Alison’s free English Literature Analysis online course
Sign up to save your progress and obtain a certificate in Alison’s free English Literature Analysis online course
Please enter you email address and we will mail you a link to reset your password.