Category Archives: Literature
There’s a story behind the poem ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’. During the summer of 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s wife ‘accidentally emptied a skillet of boiling milk on my foot, which confined me during the whole time of C[harles] Lamb’s stay’. As a result, Coleridge was forced to stay behind at home while his friends went for a walk across the Quantocks. He chose to sit under the lime-tree in his friend Thomas Poole’s garden, and this moment of solitude occasioned one of Coleridge’s most famous poems.
This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
[Addressed to Charles Lamb, of the India House, London]
Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost Read the rest of this entry
Barely any of the hundreds of poems Emily Dickinson wrote were published during her lifetime, and indeed, while she was alive, she was far better known as a gardener than a poet. ‘New feet within my garden go’, which is about new generations setting foot in her garden while the seasons continue to roll on and roll round, reminds us of the link between mankind’s toil (working in the garden) and the vast and eternal cycle of nature which makes our achievements seem so small by comparison.
New feet within my garden go –
New fingers stir the sod –
A Troubadour upon the Elm
Betrays the solitude.
New children play upon the green –
New Weary sleep below –
And still the pensive Spring returns –
And still the punctual snow! Read the rest of this entry
‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ shows just what a great satirical poet Robert Burns could be. Like John Betjeman’s later poem ‘In Westminster Abbey’, ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ – a poem from 1785 – uses the form of a prayer to expose religious hypocrisy and ruthless self-preservation – here, the self-preservation of ‘Holy Willie’, a church elder.
Holy Willie’s Prayer
Holy Willie was a rather oldish bachelor elder, in the parish of Mauchline, and much and justly famed for that polemical chattering, which ends in tippling orthodoxy, and for that spiritualized bawdry which refines to
liquorish devotion. In a sessional process with a gentleman in Mauchline-a Mr.Gavin Hamilton-Holy Willie and his Read the rest of this entry