This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison Theme of Man and the Natural World
The mystical connection between humans and nature reappears again and again in early Romantic poetry. Romanticism is in large part a reaction against the idea that man is the "rational animal" whose intelligence places him above the rest of nature but also alienates him from it. At the beginning of "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison," the speaker is indeed alienated. You could think of him like a pouting child kicking the dirt and muttering, "Stupid lime trees. What have you done for me lately?" Through the use of his imagination ("imagination" is a huge word in Romanticism), the speaker comes to realize nature's power to connect rather than separate.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Where does Coleridge personify nature in this poem? Does nature have a "soul"?
- Why is the speaker unable to appreciate all the beautiful and "soothing" scenery in the garden at the beginning of the poem?
- How does Coleridge create parallel imagery between the "roaring dell" in the first stanza and the garden in the third stanza? Compare and contrast these two landscapes.
- Do you think the speaker has a true epiphany at the end of the poem, or is the whole I-blessed-the-rook sequence just a cop out? Is he just ascribing human desires and wishes to nature?
Chew on This
The poem illustrates the idea of a single unity within the diversity of nature – a kind of Ideal Soul – but the speaker fails to integrate himself with this unity. He views it as non-human.
The speaker's reconciliation with the alienated world of the man-made garden comes at a price – he must repress his more irrational and chaotic emotions.