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Kubla Khan Summary & Analysis
by Samuel Coleridge

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"Kubla Khan" is considered to be one of the greatest poems by the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who said he wrote the strange and hallucinatory poem shortly after waking up from an opium-influenced dream in 1797. In the first part of the poem, the speaker envisions the landscape surrounding the Mongol ruler and Chinese emperor Kubla Khan’s summer palace, called "Xanadu," describing it as a place of beauty, pleasure, and violence. The speaker suggests that these qualities are all deeply intertwined and, in the final stanza, announces a desire to build a "pleasure palace" of the speaker's own through song. The poem is one of Coleridge's most famous, and has been interpreted in many different ways. Overall, though, it's possible to think of it as speaking to the creative ambitions of poetry itself—as well as to its limitations.

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