Publication details [#2458]

Benzon, William L. 2004. Talking with nature in "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison". SWorld Selections. URL


By recasting Vygotsky's account of language acquisition in neural terms we see that language itself functions as a transitional object in Winnicott's sense. This allows us to clarify the Schwartz-Holland account of literature as existing in Winnicottian potential space and provides a context in which to analyze Coleridge's "This Lime-Three Bower." The Caretaker-Child attachment relationship provides the poem's foundation. The poet plays the Child role with respect to Nature and the Caretaker role with respect to his friends. The friends, Charles in particular, play the mediating the role of transitional object in the first movement while Nature becomes a mediator between one person and another in the second movement. The first movement starts with the poet being differentiated and estranged from Nature and concludes in an almost delusional fusion of poet, friends, and Nature. The second movement starts with the poet secure in Nature's presence and moves to an adult differentiation between poet, friends, and Nature. (William Benzon)