I don’t blame the anonymous person from Porlock who interrupted S.T. at Ash Farm during the composition of Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment. (It may have been an opium trip in any case.)
But the point is that Coleridge’s ‘fragment’ is perfect and needs no further embellishment.
Richard Holmes, in his insanely detailed biography of Coleridge (1989), observed “His myth of creativity contains both these elements, which like Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”, implies both destruction and preservation of a poetic paradise...“Kubla Khan” is a pagan celebration of creative force in the universe, which the poet shares in the moment – perhaps irrecoverable – of trance-like inspiration. In the sudden release of unconscious images, which Coleridge credited to his opium “reverie”, the poet becomes both the controlling magus of this power, and also perhaps its sacrificial victim.”
Yes, sure, Ancient Mariner and Christobel are fine but they go on and on…and on. Kubla Khan is the thinking druggies’ short poem for the ages:
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,