Coleridge’s masterpiece, “Kubla Khan,” came to him in an opium dream after he passed out reading Samuel Purchas’s Pilgrimage. He claimed that its fragmentary nature (its subtitle is “Or, a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.”) was due to a sudden interruption from a visitor as he was transcribing his vision:
On awakening [the author] appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter!"
The visitor may have been a tall tale on the poet’s part, or he may have been Coleridge’s opium dealer. Either way, “Khan” is a testament to the poet’s talent: who else besides Coleridge and Afroman could write their masterwork while stoned beyond comprehension?