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This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison

This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison


by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Daylight, Twilight, Evening Light

Symbol Analysis

One of the most interesting aspects of this poem is the way that Coleridge actually shows the passage of time. You might be tempted to think that his change of mind from thinking that the bower is a prison to thinking that Nature is glorious everywhere comes too suddenly to be believable. But it doesn't come suddenly – as the speaker talks his way through the poem, we watch the light pass down through the trees while the sun is still high, then pass sideways at sunset, and finally we get the last bit of evening light as the rook flies out of vision. Notice especially the relation of light and foliage in this poem.

  • Line 11: The first stanza contains imagery of light falling through a dense, wooded ravine that will be picked up on in the third stanza.
  • Lines 25-27: The late afternoon sun goes down further and further as the poem goes on, a detail that Coleridge shows us in subtle ways. Here, the sails of a wee little boat are lit up by sun, but the islands already appear "purple" in the early evening.
  • Lines 33-38: As sunset approaches, the speaker speaks directly to the players who will make this the best darned sunset you've ever seen: the sun, the shining flowers, the "burning" clouds, and the trees in the distance. Addressing things that cannot reply in poetry is called apostrophe.
  • Lines 55-57: The ivy is darker than the trees around it, so it looks like a black "mass" of dark stuff in the evening.
  • Lines 72-73: The sun has set, the air is "dusky," and the rook grows dimmer and dimmer as it flies toward the last bit of light remaining. Rooks have black feathers.

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