The mind sees its moods echoed in the natural world is what Romantics meant by ‘egotism’, the idea that the mind “everywhere Echo or mirror seeking of itself”. Similarly, in This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison by Coleridge, the bower is the receptor, a conduit for the natural world and catalysing the composer’s imaginative journey. Coleridge also employs the same technique of systolic rhythm shifting from minute contractions of “few poor yellow leaves” to wide panoramic expansions of “wide wide heaven – and view again …meadows, and the sea”.
Ironically it is the ‘imprisonment’ of the bower which actually liberates the persona’s imagination. In Ode on a Grecian Urn Kent’s urn catalyses the persona to go on an imaginative journey of contemplation, questioning the urn repeatedly: “What leaf fring’d legend haunts about thy shape? ” The figures on Kent’s urn transcend time, they will not age nor die, they are free from time, yet paradoxically, they are frozen in time: “Thou still unravish’d bride of queitness, /Thou foster-child of silence and slow time”.
The figures on the urn need not face the ravages of time, but equally cannot experience the journey of love and life. Whilst it is the experience of the journey that is most profound, the final destination brings the realization of a new outlook on life or on ourselves, as we are imbued with the lessons we have learnt along the way. Drink Entire: Against the Madness of Crowds results in a failed journey for the protagonist. He gains no insight into himself, other than realization of his own wretched condition: “And that sweet taste in my mouth?
Dust.” the taste sense conveys the desolation felt by Morgan. The composer uses metaphor to convey the outcome, where all hope has been crushed by the urban hell: “Typewriters and computers took your final dregs … printed you on paper, punched you into confettis, and threw you down a sewer vent. ” In This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, the persona realizes that the bower is itself a microcosm of the beauty of nature: “lov’d to see the shadow of the leaf and stem above the dappling its sunshine”. The romantic theme of unity between nature and God are revealed to us: “hues as veil the Almighty Spirit”.
The final outcome the persona imparts is that all of nature is divine, beautiful and precious: “No sound is dissonant which tells of life”. Frost at Midnight teaches a similar lesson, exacting the nature is “that eternal language, which thy God utters”. Similarly, in Ode on a Grecian Urn the composer ends his with the realization that “beauty is truth, truth beauty”, that true beauty lies in the journey of life, despite its suffering, transience and its inevitable destination. The imaginative journey extends us far beyond reality, into the realms of the mind.
It is evident it all these texts that such journeys and their success depends on elements such as the initial attitude to the journey, the catalyst and the final destination. The journey, whether initiated by ourselves or force upon us by external forces, gives us greater understanding through a test of character . It tests our courage, flexibility and inner strengths, it strips us bare of our comforts, our shelters and leaves us plunging forth into the unknown. We delve deep into our own creations, into the realms of the mind, and ultimately, what we find there is ourselves.