British Literature

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This essay evaluates three poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley based on what the poet was attempting to do in his work. This involves discussing universal ideas as well as using symbolism and metaphors.

Hymn to Intellectual Beauty is the first poem. The titles of the poems represent the poet's divine engagement with beauty as expressed by nature. There is a mystical connotation in the hymn that makes the poem read like a prayer. For example, in lines 32-35, Shelly speaks of the light and mist o'er mountains, as well as the 'night-wind' that brings grace and reality. This is a clear symbolism of the spiritual realm.

The poet asserts that the spirit he indents to worship is more real than a god or gods. Shelly reflects to the spirit that enables him reach its realisation situation in the last stanza. The poem also demonstrates the connection with an intellectual beauty through imagination that brings about calmness and openness. He shows the encounter of the ‘spirit’ of his ‘passive youth. The poems touch significant themes that enhance its meaning (Stephen et al. 23). The poem reflects the “Romantic Era” that was influenced by different reactions to both scientific and rational thought to enlighten the generation. The poems explore key themes such as love of natural simplicity, wild freedom, emotion and scientific thoughts and the power of imagination.

The thought of Shelly is in the existence of spiritual power that stands between the physical world and the heart of the man, which is invisible and unknown to man. The poem states that the shadow visits ‘world as an inconstant wing,’ which shows irregularity by which the spirit of the world visits the heart of the man (Stephen et al. 36). Based on the title of the poem, it is evident that Shelly tries to demonstrate mental faculties by passing the idea that the beauty concept is not concrete, but abstract. The poem “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” is remarkable for the description it provides about Shelly, rather than the idea of art, showing that the poet was an idealist and not a materialist.

Ode to the West Wind

Shelly takes thematic leaps that extend the rationale of the previous poem “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” by including personal art and meditating the ideas behind the beauty as well as the natural world to develop “Ode to the West Wind” poem. In this poem, Shelly evokes the ‘West Wind” that dispatches the dead leaves as well as spreading the seeds and nature them with spring. He uses a metaphor by calling the wind as “destroyer and preserver” and asks it to hear him. Again, he calls the wind the ‘dirge’ and explains how stirs up the storm is and also commands it to hear him (Stephen et al. 61). Shelly tries to drive his thought across the universe where he asks the wind to “make me they lyre” where he speaks on behalf of humanity and regarding the season.

There are five stanzas in each of the seven parts of the poem, whereby the rhyme scheme in every part is achieved by “terza rima.” The poet uses the rhyme in different lines such as first, third and middle lines to bring musical effect into the poem and make the readers enjoy (Stephen et al. 83). Shelly uses all these stylistic devices to put its own art into beauty meditation as well as into the natural world. From the poem, it is evident that the poet evokes the wind with magic, whereby he describes the critical role of the poem as “destroyer and preserver” where he asks the wing to sweep him away from the torpor in the fifth section. At the end of the poem, it is clear that Shelly achieves his intention of linking the nature with art through finding natural metaphors that are powerful enough to express the idea of quality, power and aesthetic ultimate expression effect.

Love’s Philosophy

Shelly’s the “Love’s Philosophy” poem presents playful romantic arguments that put the poet forward based on the love union. Shelly uses natural imagery as well as a strong rhyme to attract the senses of readers. The word “Philosophy” in this poem is used to mean an argument or a critical way of thinking. In the first stanza, Shelly describes natural world that acts as a good example of him and his beloved (Stephen et al. 112). He uses tender and archaic ‘thee’ to address the aspect of the natural world. He demonstrates his love for nature by drawing a lesson from the scene in front of him as he speaks to his silent beloved.

Shelly shows powerful and irresistible emotions that prioritises the relationship beyond everything else. He uses a trochaic meter, whereby he stresses and uses unstressed syllables within a pattern (Stephen et al. 125). The two stanzas for a pair of rhymed quatrains “ababcdcd” that build a strong relationship with archetypal ballad meter to bring about the element of romance in the poem. Descriptive words such as “moonbeams” and “mountains” are used to explain the scene of two lovers at the hilltop. However, he did not explain what can be seen with bear easy, meaning that love is invisible. Shelly uses the word ‘disdain’ to show the relationship between siblings. The repetition of the word such as “clasp” was used to create more emphasis on how lovers hold each other as how the sun touches the earth.


In summary, the three poems by Shelly demonstrates different stylistic devices used in creating different themes on romance. The common language in the three poems includes natural imagery by use of elements such as the moon, sun, rivers, oceans and mountains. Shelly manifests himself as a romantic poet through the use his effects on personal emotions.

Works Cited

Stephen, et. al. The Norton Anthology English Literature Volume 2: The Romantic Period through the Twentieth Century. 9th ed. New York: Norton, 2012.

November 03, 2022

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