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This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison

This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison


by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Best Wishes to "My Gentle-Hearted Charles"

Symbol Analysis

Charles Lamb was an influential member of the circle that included Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Robert Southey; he was an important English essayist; and he had a deep knowledge of Shakespeare's plays. But…do we get any sense of this in the poem? Or, does he seem, kind of adorable? If you wanted to, you could read the entire poem as a message to Charles about how to recover from the disastrous blow he suffered when his sister killed his mother in an insane fit. All this talk of "spirituality" and "Nature" and "Life" could be therapeutic.

  • Lines 29-33: When you talk to someone in a poem who can't reply (because it's a poem!), the term is apostrophe. In this "conversation poem," Charles is the object of apostrophe.
  • Line 40: Charles's senses are personified as "swimming" in the rich density of the landscape.
  • Lines 42-44: In this set of similes, the most complicated in the poem, the landscape is compared to a "body" that contains a soul or "spirit." Its colors are like the semi-transparent "veil" behind which lies the "Almighty Spirit" (God).
  • Lines 69: The phrase "gentle-hearted" is attached to the name of Charles every time it appears in the poem. It helps to preserve the poem's iambic pentameter.
  • Lines 76-77: One more, for old time's sake: here's the final apostrophe to Charles Lamb. Charles can appreciate that the strange, "creaking" sound of the rook is a symbol of natural vitality.

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