Coleridge’s Kubla Khan: Composition

Lesson rationale

This activity, which aims to develop students’ understanding of ‘Kubla Khan’ after completing an initial study of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, will encourage students to make links between the poem and a number of historical sources. Students will produce an annotated version of the poem that shows how Coleridge drew on writings about the Far East and its culture, considering how Coleridge’s work is influenced by descriptions of Oriental legends, landscapes, architecture and design.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • How did Coleridge’s reading of the accounts of the travellers Samuel Purchas, William Chambers and Marco Polo influence the scenes he describes in ‘Kubla Khan’?
  • What did Coleridge say about the nature of poetic diction in Biographica Literaria? Does he succeed in upholding these aims in ‘Kubla Khan’?