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This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison

This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison


by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Forests, Trees, and Other Green Things

Symbol Analysis

The title of the poem refers to the lime or Linden tree, and Coleridge must know his botany, because he also points out the ash, elm, and walnut trees. The poem contrasts, but ultimately unifies, the wild, dark, rugged forest of the "roaring" ravine with the neat, cozy, orderly space of the garden. Nature, he seems to say, is the same everywhere, if you have the right way of looking at it.

  • Line 7: "Springy" sounds like it could be a pun. The heath is "springy" because it contains flowers and lush plants. But it is also "springy" to walk on – like a spring – because heaths consist of lots of short shrubs at ground level. Don't you ever wonder why those characters on British PBS specials can run so fast through the heath – that stuff is like wearing moon-shoes!
  • Lines 10-20: The first paragraph contains elaborate imagery of the deep, dark forest that the speaker's friends must cross in order to view the ocean. The atmosphere is moist and dark, with splashes of light here and there.
  • Line 13: His friends must cross over a fallen ash tree that spans the stream. The simile in this line likens the trunk of the tree to bridge, because that's how it functions for them.
  • Line 17: Those "long lank weeds" are an example of alliteration.
  • Lines 49-60: These lines are meant to make you think of the description of the lush greenery from lines 10-20. He gives the same kind of detailed imagery, only focusing on his own "bower" instead of the imagined interior of the forest. The word "transparent" is an exaggeration (hyperbole) of the effect of light on a leaf. The light almost makes the leaf seem see-through.

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