Question No. 4 – Reference to the Context – Poem 2
This stanza has been extracted from the poem entitled Music when Soft Voices Die, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
About the Poet
P.B Shelley is one of the most famous poets of English Literature. He is an idealist and a dreamer. He exists in the world of ideas and visions which seem to him more practicable and real than the so called realities of this world.
About the Poem
In this short lyric, Shelley expresses his views about beauty, love and separation. He says that beauty is immortal and love is unchangeable. It does not change with the passage of time and with the change of circumstances. It does not die. Separation does not kill true love.
Music, when soft voices die————-Live within the sense they quicken.
The poet says that when sweet voices fade away, they echo in our memory. Beautiful and mellifluous songs are unforgettable and immortal. Similarly when the sweet-smelling lovely flowers of violets wither away, their pleasant smell can still be enjoyed in the memory. Our minds are refreshed when we remember the sweet fragrance of violets.
In other words, the poet wants to say that if a thing loses its physical beauty, it can be revived in the imagination. Thus this short lyric reflects the fundamental importance of imagination in human life.
“A thing of beauty is joy for ever.”
Shelley emphasizes the same idea in these lines containing the depth of meaning and philosophical approach to love, beauty, separation and imagination. The poet by giving the example of enchanting music an fragrant violets expresses this idea that a beautifule thing never dies. It has everlasting effect on the mind of a man.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead————Love itself shall slumber on.
Shelley believes in the Platonic love, which shuns fulfillment. It is a desire that always remains unsatisfied. In love Shelley must find something ideal, something ever to aspire after, something ever to look forward to. It is in the expectation of fulfillment that his happiness lies. H has expressed the Platonic conception of love in this beautiful stanza.
The poet says that when rose petals wither away, they do not become useless. They retain their sweet smell even after withering away. That is why they are used for decorating the beloved’s bed. The poets’s beloved has been separated from him. She is not with him, but her thoughts are with him and his love will sleep on her thoughts.
In other words the poet wants to say that it does not matter if the sweet heart is physically away from him because spiritually she is with him. He is not alone as in his imagination he finds his beloved very close to him. Separation has sharpened love but he is free from mental agony as her sweet thoughts always comfort and soothes him. His love is passionate and profound and it will not change with the passage of time. He cannot forget his beloved and will continue to love her in his imagination as true love does not die and transcends all barriers and surmount all obstacles. Absence sharpens love; distances intensifies love but imagination brings the beloved so close to the lover that distances come to end and the two separated souls are united.