Today's Poem-Coleridge-The Lime-Tree Bower My Prison


What better poem for absent friends?

The Lime-tree Bower my Prison
[Addressed to Charles Lamb, of the India House, London]
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

              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.

And so I would say to absent friends, "No sound is dissonant which tells of life."

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 8, 2003 7:36 AM.

Yesterday's Events was the previous entry in this blog.

One Last Poem-Walter de la Mare-The Listeners is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll