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On the surface, this first statement is simply an authorial disclaimer, whereby the speaker discounts his own poem as a 'fragment', a 'psychological curiosity' that caught the interest of some other poet (Lord Byron).

[12] One could read this disclaimer quite literally, as do many critics, and thus conclude that indeed Coleridge is dismissing his own work as a mere triviality or curiosity in an attempt to avoid charges of blasphemy (Mellor, 157-58) or poetic and artistic ineptitude (Mc Farland, 225) contrasting his attempt to argue for creative individuality in the preface to 'Christabel'.

I argue that the preface serves as a rhetorical monocle that allows us to glimpse the poem's performance context and thus better to understand Coleridge's ambiguous poetic metaphysics.

[8]'Kubla Khan' exhibits metacommunicative devices that remind its audience they are reading a fabricated narrative (the preface) and verse (the poem proper) tale and that reveal a specific understanding of this tale.

Why did Coleridge feel it necessary to supplement his later manuscripts with such addenda?

One explanation concerns Coleridge's role as orator and his ability to affect audiences deeply through verbal performance.

[9] The most convincing date of composition is Autumn (October or November) of 1797, for this is the date given in the Crew Manuscript endnote in which Coleridge writes, 'This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed in a sort of Reverie brought on by two grains of Opium, taken to check a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock and Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone Church, in the fall of the year, 1797.' Furthermore, in a letter to John Thelwall dated 14 October 1797 Coleridge mentions a brief absence that probably corresponds to his stay at Porlock where the poem was composed, and Coleridge goes on to say, 'My mind feels as if it ached to behold & know something —and it is only in the faith of this that rocks or waterfalls, mountains or caverns give me the sense of sublimity or majesty! [10] Here, Coleridge seems preoccupied with the sublime and very specific natural imagery that appear in 'Kubla Khan', helping to confirm further that the poem or some version of it was most likely composed in the fall of 1797.

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The first sentence of the preface is significantly set off from the rest as its own paragraph, implying that it holds a singular importance for our understanding of the preface and for the way we position ourselves in relation to the poem.The subtitle and preface to 'Kubla Khan' are indeed curious aesthetic and thematic elements that elicit numerous interpretive responses, editorial practices, and critical perspectives.[5] One of the most common readings views the subtitle and the preface as rhetorical apologies added by Coleridge in an attempt to assuage his guilt and/or to avoid harsh criticism.The very existence or, more properly, the coming into being of the preface suggests that it is itself a rhetorical device that foregrounds the poem's performance context.Critics and literary historians have extensively debated the date of the poem's composition, suggesting dates that range from as early as 1797 to as late as 1800.

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