‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge [Poem Review]

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Look, this poem was…fine. I don’t want to talk down to it because it wasn’t like bad at being a poem or anything, however, it just wasn’t on any topic I found particularly interesting. But I am open to the idea that I just missed something really important so I wanted to at least try to look closer at it.

Anything that has the word “prison” in the title is sure to deal with isolation and this poem has some really powerful ways of communicating this feeling to the reader.

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Such beauties and such feelings, as had been
Most sweet to have remembrance, even when age
Had dimm’d mine eyes to blindness!

Lines 1-5

There is a great amount of melancholy in these first lines as the narrator remembers feelings and events from their past–happiness comes from what has happened in the past and not from what they are experiencing in the present. These memorized are still able to have an emotional affect on them even after they have been distorted by age.

And yes, I’m using the singular, non-gender-specific pronoun even though it’s not grammatical but Shakespeare uses it this way so I’m going to listen to Bill–he knows what he’s talking about.

Henceforth I shall know
That nature ne’er deserts the wise and pure

Lines 60-61

It’s pretty obvious that this play is about nature but I found this interesting because it’s flipping the idea of isolation from one about being with people from one’s past to finding kinship with nature instead. You may not have guessed this about me, but I was a bit of a loner as a kid–and by “loner” I mean I had a habit of staring at other kids like they were stupid until they left me alone. So I spent a lot of time outside by myself and I kind of understand the feeling. Not in a nature-is-better-than-people kind of way but in a at-least-nature-doesn’t-mind-that-I’m-weird kind of way.

Like I said, this poem is fine, and if you want descriptions of nature that tie into ideas of loneliness and solitude, maybe this is something you’ll want to read but I wasn’t sold. Every poem I read that’s about darker themes always makes me think of punk-pop from 2005 and I just have to roll my eyes and wait for it to pass–not that I don’t love a little Paramore every now and then.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

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