The Folk Show Treasure Hunt Song #6

Track 6 "Kubla Khan"

Thursday 20th August at 6pm

Tony Woolard (and possibly David Bond) with Folk Roots & Branches / 10 Radio

Online live link: 

The Team:

Tamsin Rosewell (poetry reading)
Ange Hardy (guitar & whistle)
Kate Rouse (hammered dulcimer)

The Song:

I knew I wanted to do something with this poem... but I didn’t feel it was
right to do Kubla Khan as anything other than what it was written to be; so I have left it as a spoken poem on this album, and arranged the music of the damsel with the dulcimer as I imagined it to sound.
Sometimes art and music are guided by the small coincidences and nudges in life that make you smile and let you know you’re on the right path.

When I first met Tamsin Rosewell (who reads this poem on the album) I was performing a concert in a bookshop, and recording an interview for her folk show. This was the day I’d decided to announce that I was going to write this album. Tamsin had, before I got to the venue, placed a single book, taken from the choice of an entire bookshop, to dress the shelf behind me and support a poster about the concert, it was: “Coleridge: Poetry and Prose.”

As our friendship grew it transpired that Tamsin had memorised Kubla Khan by the time she was eleven; I was delighted when she agreed to join me in the studio for an afternoon.
The Treehouse Bookshop in Kenilworth will also feel like the place where this project became a reality.

The Poem:

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.

- Kubla Khan

Posted by Ange Hardy on August 20th 2015

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