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The Lime-tree Bower my Prison [Addressed to Charles Lamb, o

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 (Ottery St Mary) – 1834 (Highgate)

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
  This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
  Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
  Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
  Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
  Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
  On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
  Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
  To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
  The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
  And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
  Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
  Flings arching like a bridge;--that branchless ash,
  Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
  Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
  Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
  Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
  That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
  Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
  Of the blue clay-stone.

  Now, my friends emerge
  Beneath the wide wide Heaven--and view again
  The many-steepled tract magnificent
  Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
  With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
  The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
  Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
  In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
  My gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pined
  And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
  In the great City pent, winning thy way
  With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
  And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
  Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
  Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
  Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
  Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
  And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend
  Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
  Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
  On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
  Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
  As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes
  Spirits perceive his presence.

  A delight
  Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
  As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
  This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
  Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
  Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
  Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
  The shadow of the leaf and stem above
  Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
  Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
  Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
  Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass
  Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
  Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
  Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
  Yet still the solitary humble-bee
  Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
  That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
  No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
  No waste so vacant, but may well employ
  Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
  Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
  'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
  That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
  With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
  My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
  Beat its straight path along the dusky air
  Homewards, I blest it! deeming its black wing
  (Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
  Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory,
  While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
  Flew creeking o'er thy head, and had a charm
  For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
  No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:05 min read

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. more…

All Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems | Samuel Taylor Coleridge Books

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