Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xanadu

the letter X was giving me the blues
I have to admit... I was stuck.
X is not a very common way to begin a word.
Or a name.
I went to the Oxford English Dictionary and felt sad that it wasn't the Xford English Dictionary because I could then write about my love for dictionaries.
But no such luck.
I was flummoXed by the letter X, which appears just about everywhere but at the beginning of the word.
I was even a bit eXasperated.
Or maybe that feeling is eXaggerated.
To be honest, the letter X isn't really my favorite letter. It looks as if its purpose is just to cross things out, to reject them. Kind of sad, but true.
While in the dictionary, seeking out X words, I came across Xanadu.
It seemed fascinating and promising. 
Should I write about Xavier vising Xanadu?
But no.
No one named Xavier visited Xanadu.
Marco Polo visited Xanadu.
It was the summer home of Kublai Khan after the main capital of the Yuan dynasty was moved to what is now Beijing. In 1275, Marco Polo arrived in Xanadu after a long journey that took him from Italy, across Asia, to what is now known as Inner Mongolia. Xanadu is now known as Shangdu. Not just now, but years and years ago. Its name was changed in 1262 to Shangdu. Marco Polo seemed to have liked the name Xanadu.
I like the name Xanadu. It seems mysterious and fascinating and almost unreal.
Xanadu or Shangdu was and continues to be a real place. It is 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Beijing. It had an outer city and an inner city. The city was described in great detail by Marco Polo. He was quite fascinated by the city, even if he did seem a bit confused by the name. The architecture of the city was most definitely Chinese. It was designed by Chinese architect Liu Bingzhong from 1252 to 1256. At one point, more than 100,000 people lived in Xanadu/Shangdu. 
 Togun Temur was the last khan. He fled the city, which was burnt to the ground in 1369. He wrote a poem about the loss of Xanadu to China and seemed very devastated by his defeat at the hands of the Ming dynasty. He wrote the poem in 1368. A year later, he had to run.
You can find the poem at the tale of Xanadu, the lost city
Many years later, in 1820, Samuel Taylor Coleridge made Xanadu famous and romantic by writing a poem about that city. Xanadu was everything splendid and opulent.  
Xanadu became a dream because it had been destroyed many years before the poem was written.
I think that I will put it on my bucket list because it is in Inner Mongolia and because it seems amazingly eXotic. It is in the process of being restored. I would love to see that... so on the bucket list it goes... 
For now, it will just occupy a good spot in my imagination, which, alas, has no X in it. 


4 comments:

Carlease Burke said...

Very cute and clever. Xtraordinary. Xcellent!

Sandy Mangis said...

This was great. You posted it with feeling. Loved it.

LivingforGod said...

The letter X is always challenging for me during the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I enjoyed reading your post.

~Urailak

Sandy said...

Well done on your X, a letter that is always a challenge. I agree Xanadu does sound mysterious.

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