Contemplating beneath the “Lime-Tree Bower”

Week 3

What did I do?

I have broken down the RUBRIC’s definition of Romanticism (a little late but oh-well) so that I can analyse Coleridge’s poetry more efficiently for future use as evidence for a thesis on the Romantic period. Such points from the RUBRIC coinciding with literary techniques will allow me to critically “evaluate texts … that express the transformative ideas, perspectives and ways of thinking that emerged” from “a range of other appropriate texts … drawn from a range of time, contexts and media”. (From Extension 1, Module B: Texts and ways of thinking RUBRIC)

Poetry

Read through The Lime-Tree Bower My Prison by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The blank verse poem is a fantastic example the power of imagination and of nature as values of Romanticism. It addresses most aspects of the RUBRIC’s definition of Romanticism, especially the place of the individual, spontaneity in thought and feeling, ways of thinking about the human experience, creative yearning for coherence, unity and meaning in human life.

Being absent for the journey written about in the poem, Coleridge uses his prior experience to partake in the walk, the exploration of nature, in order to view the reaction of his friend – a man of the city.  There is clear comparison between Nature, personified as an all powerful being with the words such as “Nature ne’er deserts the wise and pure”, and “the great City” from whence his friend lived, “pent”, waiting hungrily for such a chance as Coleridge himself is physically missing out on. Nature is perceived as just as powerful, if not more powerful, than God to Coleridge. His descriptive language riddled with reference to his knowledge and faith as a vicar and therefore his reflection of the landscape is pointed to the sublimity of “Almighty Spirit” through “hues” acting as a “veil”.

Contextually: Writing this poem provided a relief in the emotion felt so strongly by Coleridge in the situation that he had been placed in – his ‘missing out’ on the opportunity to enjoy the exploration of nature and to relate to his good friend whom he has not often seen. The reason for his absence being that his spilt hot milk on his foot (this is rumoured to have been on purpose as theirs was not a pleasant marriage)

Coleridge placed himself both in their shoes and in a better pair of his own through his imagination and skill with words. This was an act of self-soothing (“have I not mark’d Much that has sooth’d me.”) in his imagining his circumstance to be more fortunate than having the promise of the walk fulfilled. He recreated his surroundings to far more appealing and powerful through his memory than through his physically experiencing them, this is done to his current placement and the journey that his friends are currently taking. His personal thoughts of his faith, of sublimity and the power of “Nature”were expressed in the poetic letter to a silent auditor  – a man from the city, lacking in experiences such as the one he partook of without Coleridge.

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