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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 181

There are really only two characters in this poem: the speaker, whom many take to be Coleridge himself; and his beloved, a woman named Sara. Coleridge did marry a woman called Sara Fricker (though their marriage was, apparently, not a happy one, and they separated after the birth of their fourth child). However, the poem was written in 1795, the very year Coleridge and Fricker married, so it seems likely that he had higher hopes for his marriage during the period of his engagement.

The speaker and Sara are, we are led to believe, unmarried in the poem because the speaker refers to Sara as a "Maid" in the final line and also remarks on the innocent symbolism of the jasmine flower in the first group of verses. Once married, she would no longer be a maid and would no longer be considered "innocent" because she would have slept with her husband. Sara of the poem does seem to check the speaker's imagination in the final verses, so perhaps we see the beginnings of the disharmony that would eventually characterize the marriage.

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