By John Spencer Hill
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Extra info for A Coleridge Companion: An Introduction to the Major Poems and the Biographia Literaria
But the lure of the North, and Wordsworth, was overpowering. On 24 July 1800 the Coleridges took up their abode at Greta Hall, Keswick, a newly completed house overlooking Derwentwater and the mountains of Borrowdale (Plates 12 and 13) - and only twelve miles distant from Wordsworth's cottage at Grasmere. 'Our house', he told Poole, 'is a delightful residence, something less than half a mile from the Lake of Keswick, & something more than a furlong from the town. It commands both that Lake, & the Lake Bassenthwaite - Skiddaw is behind us - to the left, the right, & in front, Mountains of all shapes & sizes - the waterfall of Lodore is distinctly visible' (CL, 1618).
This Lime-Tree Bower' is perhaps the most genial and engaging poem Coleridge ever wrote. It is, as Michael Schmidt says, 'one of our great poems, a personal poem of shared joy, momentary optimism, sincere generosity of impulse'. 31 While these features of openness and selfless friendship need to be stressed, one must see as well that beneath the poem's relaxed exterior there lies a tightlyknit structure which is the vehicle of a deeply felt imaginative VISIon. The poem is based on the rondo pattern characteristic of the Conversation Poems: from the lime-tree bower to which he has been confined the poet ranges out in imagination and then returns to the bower again.
19 For his 'Bed- and Book-room' (Plate 18) at The Grove, Coleridge chose an attic room with a commanding view 'over Southampton Farm, Kenn Wood, & Hampstead not surpassed within a hundred miles of London' (CL, v 335); and here, protected and encouraged by the faithful Gillmans, he wrote Aids to Reflection (1825) and On the Constitutz"on of the Church and State (1829). He also made plans and notes for a theological opus maximum which, although never completed, was the great hope of his declining years and consumed most of his intellectual energies during the last ten years of his life.
A Coleridge Companion: An Introduction to the Major Poems and the Biographia Literaria by John Spencer Hill