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Percy Bysshe Shelley

Defence of poetry / Mont Blanc

I.Introductory information:
Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 8 July 1822), important English romantic poet. He was famous because of the association with Lord Byron and John Keats. AFTER PERCY SHELLEY'S EARLY DEATH IN 1822, MARY SHELLEY PUBLISHED TWO COLLECTED EDITIONS OF HER HUSBAND'S POETRY; BOTH OF WHICH INCLUDED "MONT BLANC". MARY'S PROMOTION OF HIS POETRY HELPED TO SECURE HIS ENDURING REPUTATION AND FAME. IN "MONT BLANC", PERCY SHELLEY COMPARES THE POWER OF THE MOUNTAIN AGAINST THE POWER OF THE HUMAN IMAGINATION. ALTHOUGH HE EMPHASIZED THE ABILITY OF THE HUMAN IMAGINATION TO UNCOVER TRUTH THROUGH A STUDY OF NATURE, HE QUESTIONS THE NOTION OF RELIGIOUS CERTAINTY. THE POET CONCLUDES THAT ONLY A PRIVILEGED FEW CAN SEE NATURE AS IT REALLY IS, AND ARE ABLE TO EXPRESS ITS BENEVOLENCE AND MALEVOLENCE THROUGH THE DEVICE OF POETRY. Defence of Poetry Shelley's essay is divided into three sections: the first defines the nature of poetry and the function of the poet; the second insists strongly on the moral influence of poetry; and the third endeavors to point out the value and significance of poetry in more advanced states of civilization. These divisions are not by any means airtight, for the material is overlapping and repetitious. But the work as a whole is unified and orderly. "Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni" is an ode by the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The poem was composed between 22 July 1816 and 29 August 1816 during Percy Shelley's journey to the Chamonix Valley, and intended to reflect the scenery through which he travelled. "Mont Blanc" was first published in 1817 in Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley's History of a Six Weeks' Tour through a Part of France, Switzerland, Germany and Holland.

II. Defence of Poetry


There are two classes of mental action : Reason and Imagination they depend on each other and form what is known as Mind Mind acts upon them and forms another toughts:

to poiein the principle of synthesis; has for its objects forms which are common to universal nature and existence to logizein the principle of analysis; it concerns the relations of things, considers thoughts as algebrical representations which lead to a result. REASON The enumeration of quantities already known Respects the differences of things IMAGINATION The perception of the value of those quantities Respects the similitudes of things Language is arbitrarily produced by it (concerning poetry) Reason is to Imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the spirit, as the shadow to the substance.

According to Shelley, poetry can be defined as the expression of the Imagination and that it has grown together with the origin of man. Man: -is an instrument over which internal and external impressions are driven -in society, becomes the object of his passions and plesures -imitates natural objects and observs in these and other actions a rhythm or order -all men observe a similar,but not in the same order in the series of their imitation of natural objects taste Poets: -communicate the influence of society or nature upon their own minds; their language is vitally metaphorical -if no new poets arise to create something new the language will be dead -in the infancy of society every author is necessarily a poet,because language itself is poetry; the authors of revolutions are not only necessarily poets as they are inventors (Plato,Cicero,Lord Bacon) -to be a poet means to apprehend the true and the beautiful in a word that defines first the relation between existence and perception and then between perception and expression -are institutors of laws and founders of civil society,of arts,of life and the teachers who make the link to the invisible world called religion -were called legislators of prophets* (because a poet holds the present as it is and discovers laws according to wich present things should be order, but he also holds the future in the present) *not in the proper sense of the word -had to innovate upon the example of his predecessors in the exact structure strange

versification -use their contemporaries vices in order to create Poetry: - a poem is the image of life expressed in its eternal truth; the creation of actions according to the permanent forms of human nature - a poem differs from a story (detached facts which have no other connexion than time,place,cause,effect) - is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is deformed - in the beginning of the world, neither ports nor auditors were completely aware of the excellency of poetry poetry acts in a divine, unapprehended manner, above consciousness - reserved for future generation to contemplate and mesure the deep sense of it makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar,it reproduces all that it represents -coexists with any other arts that contribute to the happiness and perfection of man -the presence or absence of poetry has been found to be connected with good and evil in conduct or habit -Non merita nome di creatore, se non Iddio ed il Poeta "None merits the name of creator but God and the poet."

III.Mont Blanc
The nature flows through the mind of the author, the first line shows the importance of

the universe/nature in the author's eye: The everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves, The man/creator is somehow superior to nature, althoug nature itself is powerful: The source of human thought its tribute brings Of waters-with a sound but half its own, The nature has a mind of it's own represented by the Arve, who reflects the free will of nature: Fast cloud-shadows and sunbeams: awful scene, Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne, Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame Of lightning through the tempest; thou A lie, Thy giant brood of pines around thee clinging, The relation between nature and human mind is emphasized (things in the universe are processed by the human mind); the idea that the man is an instrument over which internal and external impressions are driven from the defence of poetry is also showned : I seem as in a trance sublime and strange To muse on my own separate fantasy, My own, my human mind, which passively Now renders and receives fast influencings, Holding an unremitting interchange With the clear universe of things around; The author is amazed by the power of nature; The question of the divinity is rised, a relation between the divinity is wanted; here may be noticed some religious connotation. (Defence of poetry: poets are institutors of laws and founders of civil society,of arts,of life and the teachers who make the link to the invisible world called religion) Mont Blanc has an important role representing the universe itself,being described as powerful and hidden in a way, in which one has to be attentive and informated to see it's meaning: I look on high; Has some unknown omnipotence unfurled The veil of life and death? or do I lie

In dream, and does the mightier world of sleep Spread far around and inaccessibly Its circles? For the very spirit falls,
That vanishes among the viewless gales! Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky, Mont Blanc appears-still, snowy, and sereneIts subject mountains their unearthly forms Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,h

(Defence of poetry: the presence or absence of poetry has been found to be connected with good and evil in conduct or habit) It is showned in this lines that a relationship between human mind and nature could be established but it can have bad or good results: The wilderness' has a mysterious tongue Which teaches awful doubt, or faith so mild, So solemn, so serene, that man may be, But for such faith,with nature reconciled; Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood By all, but which the wise, and great, and good interpret, or make felt, or deeply feel. In conclusion, in order to see the power of the nature , represented by the Arve river and Mont Blanc, one has to use his imagination and that could only be done by the poets,they have the sense of sublime,beautiful and could interpret the symbols (Defence of poetry: the poet communicates the influence of society or nature upon their own minds; their language is vitally metaphorical): Of Heaven is as a law, Inhabits thee! And what were thou and earth, and stars, and sea, if to the human mind's imaginings Silence and solitude were vacancy?