Where Alph the sacred river ran…

For some reason I have an earworm… a mixture of Xanadu as featured in Coleridge’s unfinished poem Kubla Khan, and a song by… by ELO and Olivia Newton-John! Well, I had forgotten that she sang it, forgotten that she collaborated with ELO… I think I was confusing that song with another ‘The legend of Xandu’ by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch.

Xanadu, an actual place associated with Kublai Khan, is where the town of Shangdu is now in Mongolia. It seems as if most of its remains have been plundered for more modern buildings and little remains. Xanadu – where Kublai Khan ‘stately pleasure-dome decree‘…

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. 

Orson Welles was taken with this idea and name Charles Foster Kane’s large estate Xanadu in his 1941 film. In reality various luxury places have been given this name, and also a mysterious bright, shining spot on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

There was a musical film with the name – a film which was a box-office failure, although the soundtrack was a hit!! It became a musical on Broadway where it achieved greater success. There have been songs, games, comical characters, all with the name or associated with Xanadu.

I have no pictures of pleasure-domes, so I have used Brighton Pavilion for my featured image.


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