200th anniversary of the first publication of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan

Watch Ian McMillan reading Kubla Khan at Coleridge Cottage in the anniversary year of it’s publication.

Coleridge’s poem ‘Kubla Khan’ has inspired artists throughout history since it’s publication in 1816, although it was actually penned nearly 20 years earlier in 1897 but discarded due to it not being finished. The poem was famously only published as a fragment after Coleridge was interrupted by a ‘person from Porlock’ during its construction and on returning to this work, he couldn’t remember the poem’s continuation.

Coleridge was living in Nether Stowey when it was written and it is not hard to see that, as well as it being inspired, as Coleridge claimed, by an opium induced dream, the environment of his cottage and gardens would have added to the evocative nature of the poem. A wander around the garden has the potential to leave any visitor with an ethereal mindset. It is said that a recital of the fragment to Byron led to its eventual publication so while he may have been ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, without his encouragement, the world might never have heard what is now considered one of the most iconic Romantic poems of all time.

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