Exploring Xanadu and Coleridge’s Ash Farm

Get a glimpse of the famous Ash Farm where Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote that universal poem of his, that begins with the famous first lines:

“In Xanadu did Kubla Kahn
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.”

The entire poem could have been written on the Fall of 1797… no one remembers for sure now. Legend has it that Coleridge was sleeping and dreaming an Opium dream in Xanadu, when ‘a person from Porlock’ woke him up. As soon as the visitor left, Coleridge sat down and wrote what he could remember, which is the great poem known to the world.

If you’re interested in tracking the Poet’s steps, a good starting point is this article published on the Telegraph. Devonlife Magazine published a nice piece in June 2004, ‘In Search of Coleridge’, by Christopher Maylock.

Also, there is a very nice account on Coleridge’s early years in this book by Lawrence Hanson, and a helpful guide with pictures, here (see page 8).

Friendly Nicky MacLean’s article in bootsnall.com explains all there is to know about the Chinese roads to walk and trains to ride, in order to reach the elusive ‘stately pleasure-dome’ in China. So, if instead you’re interested in visiting the remote land of Xanadu, and tracking William Darlymple’s footsteps (and Marco Polo’s), you might want to take a look at his book ‘In Search of Xanadu’ – makes a nice reading for the armchair traveler!


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