Stately Pleasure-Domes

I have survived my exams (though I did not excel—thankfully, my grades do not interest me), but I still carry a few battle scars. My Property Law professor gave us a 7-hour exam centering around the hypothetical intellectual property issues that would be involved if (1) Samuel Taylor Coleridge had written Kubla Khan 150 years more recently than he did, (2) an explorer used an illegally published (pirated) copy of the copyrighted poem to discover underground lakes and caves in Mongolia, (3) a revolution in Mongolia led the area to be annexed by the USA, and (4) our property laws were retroactively applied to the former Mongolians. The exam question was so long that it took a solid half-hour just to read it, but it was peppered heavily with phrases from the poem. I debated whether I should post the poem to get it out of my system or print it and ritualistically burn it along with my Property textbook, which was no help at all on the “open-book” exam. I have opted for the former, but reserve the option of the latter. Here she is in all her glory:

Kubla Khan

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,
     A mighty fountain momently was forced :
     Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
     Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
     Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail :
     And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
     It flung up momently the sacred river.
     Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
     Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
     Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
     And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
     And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
     Ancestral voices prophesying war !
     The shadow of the dome of pleasure
     Floated midway on the waves ;
     Where was heard the mingled measure
     From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
     A damsel with a dulcimer
     In a vision once I saw :
     It was an Abyssinian maid,
     And on her dulcimer she played,
     Singing of Mount Abora.
     Could I revive within me
     Her symphony and song,
     To such a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

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