The most obvious aspect of youth portrayed by Williams in her letter is the passions of the crowd. She exclaims “The people, sure, the people were the sight!” She describes the crowd as best she can using wild emotions and very demonstrative behavior. The people in the crowd, no matter their age, are filled with such fervor that even the old are feeling and acting young: working, marching in the parade, and feeling the freedom and rebellion most commonly associated with youth. The crowd’s behavior was able to change from the giddiness and excitement of their new-found freedom to solemness and respect for their beloved Prince who was assassinated. This solemness was then followed by a resurgence of the people’s jubilation, showing how tempestuous and fickle the mind of the crowd could be. The crowd is a symbol of youth to Williams; it is both violent and peaceful, unfathomable, and a perfect description of the sublime. The festivities are an outlet for the crowd to express itself, similar to how Williams used these letters to express herself to her readers in England.
Youth often have a sense that old ways are tired and corrupted. When the French Revolution was occurring, this was especially prevalent in the national consciousness. So when a clean slate was given to the French people, they chose to start fresh, changing everything because it had obviously caused the problems that led to the revolution. (read: sarcasm). What Williams describes as sublime sounds almost like a mass Bacchanalian trance, with “half a million people assembled at a spectacle.” What felt new and young and revolutionary in this circumstance was only a cog in the normal continuance of society, with its ever continuing building up and destruction. But as mentioned by the introduction, this new everything complete dismantling attitude did not work for very long at all, no matter how excited everyone was for it. Sometimes the idea that all that is old cannot work in new systems is problematic, but it is a hard idea to surmount without the experience of age and experience, obviously less a part of the life of someone young.
Helen Maria Williams visits Paris in her youth and sends many a letter to her friend in England describing the festivals and the Bastille in particular. In her writings Williams’ youth can be seen through her view of the festivities “i promised to send you a description of the federation:but it is not to be described” to me youth can be seen in the wide-eyed view of the world and the festival (Williams 109). Although the experience and knowledge of the older and wiser is coveted, the feeling of a new experience the first time seeing such spectacles is indeed awe-inspiring, especially in the wake of such momentous events as the siege of the Bastille.
In Helen Maria Williams’ letter to her friend, she wrote about the many times in her travel of her strong passion for the events of the French Revolution. She writes that “one must be present , to form any judgement on the scene”(Williams, 109) because there was no way to make someone who did not experience the federation firsthand know how it felt to be in the assembly. Being a youth is about having strong emotions, and that is exactly what Helen Maria Williams experienced in Paris. She describes the people feeling unified, as “the distinctions of rank were forgotten”(Williams, 110). Unity is brought into the age of youth since everyone is in the same state of life, wandering, and trying to find out where there place in the world is.
Williams visit to the prison also shows her youthful activity during the Revolution. She writes that she felt “a much stronger desire to contemplate the ruins of that building than the most beautiful edifices in Paris”(Williams,110). She would rather see the decayed part of the city that has seen many rough years than something that was attractive to look at. Her “strong spirit of curiosity”(Williams 111) drove her to experience the skeletons and the dungeons that escalated her passion for the Revolution.
Williams writes her “Letters Written in France” in 1790, just a few short years after the French Revolution. In this work, she depicts several of the effects that the Revolution had on the youth culture of the time. The largest effect, however, is on the dissolving of social classes and rank.
“the distinctions of rank were forgotten, and inspired by the same spirit, the highest and lowest orders of citizens gloried in taking up the spade”
The French Revolution led to social unrest of the most glorious kind. A new society was being formed and people finally had the freedom of mobility. Women could now begin to have rights. Youth could begin to take not only an interest, but an active role in government. Revolutions can lead to many scary and unsettling outcomes, but they also have the possibility of breeding the type of social justice that was present at this time in France.
In Helen Marie Williams’, “from Letters Written in France, in the summer of 1790” the idea of youth is very apparent. Even in just the way it is written, the young excitement can be felt as she tries to send “a description of the federation” which, in her opinion, is “not to be described!” (p109) Everything she says seems to be glorified by her youthful stance on the revolution, glorifying it in her mind, telling of all the splendors of the revolution. She continues to hope that the “beams of liberty, like the beams of day, [will] shed their benign influence on the cottage of the peasant, as well as on the palace of the monarchs!”(p111). This language has the feeling of youth to it, that is still so full of hope, and so naïve to things that will actually happen during this time of revolution. She is seeing it through a lens of youth, and in a way it is blinding her to the realities of everything around her. We can also see her naivety and innocence when she first encounters the Bastille prison. She is struck by the horrors of the prison, surprised that this was a place where “human creatures [were] dragged at the caprice of depotic power” (p111). Overall, the youthfulness of Williams is apparent in her language as she describes her journey to France during the beginning tides of revolution in a bright tone, full of excitement, as she does not see the consequences that could prevail in the future.
In William’s, “Letter’s Written in France”, she opens up the scene by talking about “the most sublime spectacle which…was ever represented on…this earth.” Starting off with this quote in her letters is so important because Williams is trying to express the power and vastness that is going into the French Revolution as well as the fear and danger that the rest of the world feels because of what is happening. She mentions that she “promised [her reader] a description of the federation, but it is not to be described.” This quote immediately strikes up the image of a man standing on a mountain looking over the vastly mysterious land that lies before him. It really cannot be described because of the unknown of what it essentially is that is being described. The federation is full of life, beauty, vastness, and infinite possibilities, but the federation is also full of unknown potential.
After the sublime picture is set up, the youthfulness of the Revolution starts to take more shape and provide evidence of the youth in the revolution. France, itself, was the key idea in its youth. The youthful period that France was in was the period where France was branding and individualizing itself. “The streets…windows…and roofs had people transformed with Joy” due to the processions and changes that were happening with the government. Youth is a time to revolt and stand up to authority and France was doing that to the monarchy that had taken over the country. Even most of the royals and higher class people of France were alright with changes for the sake of democracy. It was “delight[ful] to find [the prince] a confirmed friend to the new constitution of France”. Even those losing property and valuables due to the changes coming were behind the youthful idea of revolution that the people of France had. The festivities in France during the 1790’s can only be described as youthful and sublime because France was in the prime of its youth.
William’s description of her visit to the Bastille Prison has a youthful perspective. The time of youth, to me personally, is a time for passion and a time of seeking justice for the injustices in the world. William’s embodies just that: a desire to see the world as it truly is and a desire to rectify all the problems of the world. I begin to see these characteristics in her at the line, “I requested to visit the Bastille; feeling a much stronger desire to contemplate the ruins of that building than the most perfect edifices in Paris” (pg 110, para 6). This line shows that William’s preferred to see the raw parts of Paris, rather than the nice areas. This to me is youth because youth is a time one has an uncontrollable desire to make the world a better place, to right all of the wrongs. At this point William’s goes on to describe the atrocities she is witnessing and is not withholding any gruesome details. She writes down everything she sees as a tool to evoke emotions of horror from her readers. I interpret the line, “There appears to be a greater number of these dungeons than one could have imagined the hard heart of tyranny itself would contrive” (111, para 2) as the author’s faith in humanity being challenged as she realizes this prison is inhumane even for tyrannical rulers.
This theme carries on when she states that never again should such a strong contrast of light exist in the political system (111, para 4). This statement is testament for William’s motive for a free land, a land where liberty exists. I take these letters as her way of informing the world of what is happening in France as a preemptive measure. Youth are normally those in a society who still believe what they do (or write) can make a difference, because youth are not yet jaded. At the end of this paragraph it is clear that the author believes liberty can cure all problems in France. She ends this with, “and bid the husbandman rejoice under the shade of the olive and vine” (111, para 4). The olive and vine is an allusion from the bible, in which the dove brings Noah back an olive leaf, which I believe signifies goodwill. The vine ties back to the bible when Jesus says “I am the vine” (New Testament), which implies God’s approval.
For the last few weeks, my church has been teaching through the book of Ecclesiastes for the Sunday sermons. I’ve really enjoyed digging into this chunk of Scripture, especially as an English major who has had more than his fair share of exposure to modernist literature. Anyways, as we began reading Melanctha, I began to notice a very common theme between the two texts: vanity. This vanity is not the condition of excessive pride or preoccupation with appearance; this vanity is the state of being futile or worthless.
Solomon, the widely accepted author of Ecclesiastes, begins his writings with the declaration that “vanity of vanities…all is vanity” (v.2). It’s a rather bleak introduction, but anyone with any experience in modernist literature will immediately sense a similar atmosphere being evoked to that of T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land, or numerous other works. Later in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon again declares, “all is vanity and a striving after wind” (v.14). This idea of striving after wind is a very clear image of the feeling of vanity Solomon is referencing, and it creates an interesting parallel to the Modernist Period.
First, it is important to understand what this striving would look like. Wind is an interesting thing. It is not necessarily abstract because it can be felt, but it is not necessarily tangible because it can never be fully possessed or obtained. Second, it is important to distinguish the two situations in which we experience wind. In one situation, we are moving at a fast speed through the air that surrounds us. The other, more common experience, is when are standing still and the wind itself is now the traveling entity. While both could certainly be applied to the Modern experience, the second situation seems more relevant to Melanctha.
In Melanctha, the narrator provides an insight into Melanctha’s mind, and we see that there is an overwhelming sense of disappointment at what she finds. For instance, in one passage we see that “she always wandered, always seeking but never more than very dimly seeing” (96). Even in her relationships, we see that she “talked and stood and walked with many kinds of men, but she did not learn to know any of them very deeply” (96). Finally, in summary, the narrator tells us that in all she did she “herself did not feel the wonder, she only knew that for her it had no real value” (96). Like the passage in Ecclesiastes, we see Melanctha at a standstill, as men pass in and out of her life without her ever really being able to possess or obtain any of them. Her experienced is characterized by the sense that everything is pointless, that all of life is a series of ups and downs to be endured.
Overall, it is very interesting to notice the similarities between Melanctha (representing the Modern era) and the writer of Ecclesiastes. In fact, this connection proves another of Solomon’s declarations by suggesting that there is truly nothing new under the sun.
In this narrative piece by Helen Maria Williams, she describes her experience of the Festival of the Federation in Paris. This event was one of the results of the French revolution which culminated in the end of the monarch system in the country and the drafting of a new constitution (The Longman Anthology of British Literature). From the narrative provided by Williams, the ceremony was more memorable to her for the spectacle she observed, more than the significance of the day itself. Williams paints a picture here of an incredible sight in that day in Paris; one of an immense gathering of people which even she, with all her literary grace finds difficult to describe. She writes that “One must have been present, to form any judgement of a scene, the sublimity of which depended much less on its external magnificence than on the effect it produced on the mind of the spectators” (Longman Vol. 2A, pp 109).Containing in the account of the festivities of the day are some allusions to youth and youthfulness which this write-up will aim to highlight.
In her description of the procession of the parade in Paris, Williams describes an ebullient crowd, writing “How am I to paint the impetuous feelings of that immense, exulting multitude?” (pp 109). While this characteristic could be attributed to people of elderly age, as it is implied here that this joy is as a result of the events that preceded it, it could also be looked at as an indication of youthfulness in the minds of the population of France. The parade was a celebration of a new dawn in the country, heralded by the drafting of a new constitution that was expected to mitigate inequality and improve the lives of the people of the country. Even for the older generation, the hope and promise this was going to bring enacted youthful joy and buoyancy. This is further amplified, in her description of the construction of the Champ de Mars, in which Williams claims was built in “Twenty days[‘] labour” (pp 109), given that it was supposed to “require the toil of years” (pp 110). According to Williams, this was only accomplished by “the enthusiasm of the people…inspired by the same spirit…old soldiers …voluntarily bestowing on their country the last remains of their strength.” (pp 110). This excitement was not an indication of just physical strength, which could be an allusion to a dominantly youthful population, but also of a mental and psychological vibrancy; a youthfulness of the mind.
Williams also points to the emergence of a new era in the soon-to-be-deposed monarchy in which the young successors to the throne embrace the revolution and new constitution even though they stood to lose some opulence from the changes. She also presents youth in her praise of the young prince who she describes in contrast to the youths of his generation. Williams notes his “attentiveness politeness …a striking contrast…to the manners of those fashionable gentlemen…who consider apathy and negligence as the test of good-breeding.” (pp 110). She also describes the eighteen-year old as having “the enthusiasm of a young and ardent mind” (pp 110), which brings her to the talk of the monarchy’s embracing of he new constitution.
In conclusion, Williams, in this narrative of the events in Paris alludes to a mental youthfulness in the population brought about by the emergence of a new era and an admiration of the particularly youthful nature of the monarchy.
A preconceived assumption of modern and past youth is the inability to feel emotions deeply. However, in Helen Maria Williams’ “Letters Written in France, in the Summer of 1790” the youthful enthusiasm and deep emotion is conveyed in very strong terms. Williams writes in such a way that you can feel her excitement, “[…] how am I to give you an adequate idea of the behaviour of the spectators? How am I to paint the impetous feelings of that immense, that exulting multitude?” (109) In this passage, I believe that Williams is euphoric with the sublime, another characteristic of the Romantic Era youth. The sublime to Williams was being in a spectacle of another world, the celebrations of the first year anniversary of liberating the Bastille, and feeling all the emotions that came along with being in the midst of the jubilant celebrations. She declares that she cannot do justice to the things the people are doing, but she can describe the general attitude of the people, “[…] addressed itself at once to the imagination, the understanding, and the heart!” (109) Perhaps her enthusiasm came from the fact that not only was she a youth herself, but in the 1790s the British government was reacting against the French Revolution by spying on and busting up political party meetings. (“The Rights of Man and the Revolution Controversy”, 108) Williams was writing a letter back to her friend who was in England at that time, perhaps she was conveying the happiness and enthusiasm felt by all, even the old, of liberation.
Helen Maria Williams begins her letter with a most youthful enthusiasm as she explains that, had she arrived in Paris a moment later, she would have missed “the most sublime spectacle which, perhaps, was ever represented on the theatre of this earth”. This statement is so youthfully dramatic, as she tries to express the overwhelming emotions she was feeling upon viewing the federation, believing that nothing on earth could compare to this scene.
There is something quite youthful in the way she writes, with an excitement that is almost tangible. The way, at first, she does not even attempt to describe the visual aspect of the federation as she does not think she can properly convey its sublimity. She rather focuses on the great amount of people and what they were also feeling, creating a wonderful, almost chaotic scene, of a massive group of incredibly excited people celebrating together.
“I may tell you of pavilions, of triumphal arches, of altars on which incense was burnt, of two hundred thousand men walking in procession; but how am I to give you an adequate idea of the behaviour of the spectators? How am I to paint the impetuous feelings of that immense, that exulting multitude?”
Helen Maria Williams’ description of the ‘federation’ was very youthful. First of all, the sheer excitement was very reminiscent of how excited only a child can get. Apparently, it was so amazing that she could hardly describe it. The end of the festivities, where people run to their houses to offer food to the troops reminded me almost of Halloween, when children dress up and go door-to-door getting candy. Something about all of this was like they were putting on airs, either that or Williams is just so effusive in her descriptions that it almost doesn’t seem real. I mean, “crowds of women surrounded the soldiers, and holding up their infants in their arms, and melting into tears, promised to make their children imbibe, from the earliest age, an inviolable attachment to the principles of the new constitution,” seems like a bit of an overstatement. When I try to picture this, it’s just not something that seems like it actually happened, so Williams’ style is very child-like because it’s such an exaggeration of an event, which it makes it seem a bit ludicrous and you kind of want to just brush her to the side.
When Williams arrived in Paris during the Summer of 1790 before the Festival of the Federation, she arrived to the center of the youthful spirit in France. The Federation, being the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille and the creation of the new constitution in France, is an important day for not only the French people as a whole but specifically for the youth in France, because this meant the beginning of a future of possibilities for France. In William’s words in her Letters Written in France, in the Summer of 1790, she finds that she can not give “an adequate idea of the behaviour of the spectators” because the youth of Paris are something too joyous to describe (pp. 105).Williams describes the general festivities on the landscape, the numbers of people, their labors at the Champ de Mars, and the soldiers’ march through the streets, but the best description she can give of what the people invoked inside of her is that it “addressed itself at once to the imagination, the understanding, and the heart” (pp.105).
Some of William’s inability to describe the emotions that the festivities invoked in her, in itself aid in giving an essence of youth to the festivities. When one tries to describe the sheer power of youth, it becomes surprisingly difficult because youth has the ability to be so many things at once. The youth can be the power of the soldiers’ movement as they march to the Champs de Mars, it can be the strength of the people, both young and old, men and women, as they aid in building up the amphitheatre around the Champ de Mars, or it can be the cheers and revelry of the people of France as they show their love for their new constitution and their new freedom. The respect given to Henry the Fourth during the march and the women holding their babies up, promising to ” imbibe…an inviolable attachment to the principles of the constitution”, gave an air of a respect for the past leading into a respect for the future, which is something the youth must be the first and the last to always have (pp.106).
The introduction of this reading struck me as very youthful, because the exact arrival of Helen Maria Williams in France was based on pure happenstance. She writes, “Had the packet which conveyed me from Brighton to Dieppe failed a few hours later; had the wind been contrary; in short, had I not reached Paris at the moment I did reach it, I should have missed the most sublime spectacle which, perhaps, was ever represented on the theatre of this earth.” I love this quote because the time of youth to me is characterized by not being in a fixed place yet. A person is just trying to find their way and a lot of times; he or she doesn’t end up where they ultimately end up because of intense forethought, but rather because a series of random events puts a person in different situations that shape his or her existence. Timing is everything, and I feel like youth is a phase in life where both wrong and right timing play a significant role in who a person can ultimately become.
The festivities described by Helen Maria Williams are abundant with characteristics related to youth. She describes the federation in great detail, but also speaks of how it cannot truly be described. She writes, “The people, sure the people were the sight!I may tell you of pavilions, of triumphal arches, or altars, on which incense was burnt, of two hundred thousand men walking in procession; but how am I to give you an adequate idea of the behaviour of of the spectators? How am I to paint the impetuous feelings of that immense, that exalting multitude?” This quote relates to youth because I think that in youth, there is a lot less emphasis placed on the importance of physical grandeur, and a lot more placed on the connectedness one feels to others, as well as the exchange and comprehension of ideas. The festivities of the federation are described as larger than life, but Williams makes a point to say that the physical things are easy to explain, but it would be much more difficult to explain “the effect it produced on the minds of the spectators.”
Youth is a time when an individual seeks acceptance for him or herself, where there can be sort of a communion of ideologies. At the festival of the federation, the people felt united in their new found freedom where all “distinction of rank were forgotten.” Those in their youth thrive on the ability to be seen as equals, and in France, this was probably one of the first instances that the younger generation saw themselves as able to make a life that wasn’t entirely based upon their social status.
Shelley’s usage of his words and phrases “antique”, “shattered”, “boundless and bare” made me imagine I was in an old and not very prosperous place. I thought of old because of the word antique and the words shattered, boundless, and bare made me imagine a destroyed and unwanted area. His line, “Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,” then made me consider something that would destroy old age or something being antique. I thought of this because when something “survives”, it continues to live. This demonstrates youth.
Also, when something gets “stamped on”, it is normally destroyed or overcome. This shows that you have power over whatever you are stamping on. When Shelley uses the phrase “stamped on these lifeless things” it makes me think that death/old things are being demolished. Thinking that old things are being removed, the opposite of old is young. This makes me consider the youthfulness that Shelley depicts from the awe-inspiring vocabulary he uses.
In Tintern Abbey the theme of youth is ever present. The mentioning of the passage of five years in the beginning of the poem as well as the tone of the poem makes it seem as if the author is reminiscing their times as a youth. When it is states that “these forms of beauty have not been to me, as is a landscape to a blind man’s eye” it seems as if Wordsworth misses his youth and seems to have been unexposed to it for a very long time. He also states “That time is past, and all its aching joys are now no more, and all its dizzy raptures.” This quote shows that Wordsworth may miss his youth, but he also realizes that youth is a time that must end for all. The usage of “dizzy” also makes it seem that Wordsworth feels that the youthful age is a foolish age. This allows the audience to view that Wordsworth, although he may miss his past, has grown as a person.
In Percy Shelley’s poem, Mont Blanc, the author’s youthful spirit is presented by his imagery and themes. In the first line, he calls the universe “everlasting,” which displays Shelley’s thought of an infinite future, a younger way of thinking. Many older adults soon realize that their lives and the world are not going to last forever, while Shelley, at a young age, had a mindset that things like nature will will continue “ceaselessly.”
He also talks about nature in a way that is reverent, as people refer to gods or royals. Shelley says the “majestic River… breathes its swift vapours.” He personifies the river, as well as the “Mountain,” giving both a livelihood that should be revered. The Power that he gives credit to the mountain and nature is praised throughout the poem. Being part of the youth is often associated with embracing the outdoors and the wild, which is one of the themes that relates Shelley’s sublimity to youth perspectives.
Percy Shelley’s work of “Mont Blanc” is one that the sublimity of the work, projects onto the reader, the youthfulness of the author. This is done through many different things such as, the imaginative descriptions, as well as the use of questions. All through out the poem, Shelley’s great imaginative skills are seen through his endless personification of his descriptions of the mountain so that it can be fully absorbed in all its greatness. He describes how the winds “drink [the pines’] odours” (line 23) and how the “waterfalls around [the mountain] leap for ever” (line 9), giving the reader a very vivid sense of the mountain, so that they can fully understand the spiritual effects it can have on them. He even goes so far with his imagination as to imagine ghosts and witches on the mountain. It is the youthful that are more likely to be able to see all this in their head, because they are the ones that still have fanciful ideas of the world, and see it in a way that those who are older, and prefer reason and order, cannot. As a youth the main way you learn something is through asking questions. At this time it is impossible for one to know everything, so one always has to ask to gain knowledge, and that is exactly what Shelley does in this poem. Throughout the poem, Shelley continues to ask multiple sets of questions, about a variety of things, especially in stanza 3. The speaker decides to contemplate the idea of death, trying to understand it, before going on to continue to describe the mountain and asking even more questions about that, such as if a split in the mountain was “where the old Earthquake-daemon taught her young ruin”(line72-73). He is furthering the sublimity of the mountain by asking these questions, trying to grasp at something that is not quite attainable to humans. The poem even ends with a question, asking what would the world be if we only saw, “the silence and the solitude [as] vacancies”(line144), hinting to us that it is not enough to just see what is going on in the world, but one must have a certain level of imagination, that youth has, to see past the physical world into the spiritual one.
Mont blanc, written by Percy Shelley is a moving piece that describes nature much like other works of his famous romanticism style poetry. From the very start Shelley begins by describing a vast universe in such a grand scheme as “The everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves, Now dark-now glittering-now reflecting gloom” (Shelley 871). The grand language that Shelley utilizes could be seen as possibly an arrogance or a strength of nature, these thoughts in general may be influenced by his age, being only twenty four when writing this poem. Relating back to the discussion over Tintern Abbey when we described youth as an arrogance and recklessness, age can bring wisdom and temperament such as in Tintern Abbey when Wordsworth is reflecting on his former youth.
In Shelley’s “Mont Blanc”, Shelley allows himself to tap both his adolescence and his adulthood which is a clear representation of his youth, with youth being the time between adolescence and adulthood. Shelley’s sublime language used in the poem illustrates an elderly wisdom when describing the mountain and everything around it, language far above the intellect of an adolescent. The ideas conveyed by Shelley, however, are very adolescent in how they are very extreme and exaggerated. “Now dark-now glittering-now reflecting gloom-now lending splendour” is an example of the heightened language as well as the extremity that Shelley uses in the poem as he describes the human mind. Ultimately, Shelley’s “Mont Blanc” is a combination of sublime, elderly language and imagery with the combination of adolescent extremities and ideas mashing together to form an expression of youth.
In “Mont Blanc”, Shelley invokes some powerful images and uses incredible descriptions of the mountain he is looking at. Barely more than a youth himself, such incredible displays of nature are awe inspiring. A youth sees the world with wide eyes and a fresh imagination rather than the elder’s wisdom and experience. A youth sees the potential in such images whereas the elder would see the lesson to be taught from the sight.
In Shelley’s poem, you can see that youthful kind of awe and intimidation by nature. Shelley describes nature more as something insanely powerful and almost scary rather than harmonious or ethereal. A youth sees such powerful images for the possibility of danger or adventure first, and for the beauty second.
Imagery can be found in excess throughout the poem of Mont Blanc. As in most literature, imagery is a tool to connect the reader to the words and the story being told. In this poem I believe Percy Bysshe Shelley uses imagery to express to the readers what he sees through his lens of the world.
“The glaciers creep
Like snakes that watch their prey, from their far fountains,
Slow rolling on” (IV)
This excerpt from the text is an example of how Shelley’s mind is processing the world around him at this time. As one gets older, the world surrounding them oftentimes dulls. Shelley focuses in on every part of the world around him, fascinated as though he is seeing the world for the first time. Instead of acknowledging the glaciers around him, his mind absorbs the information and he sees this simple part of nature as much more complex. Shelley is expressing himself through descriptions of the world around him, which comes across as youthful awe.
Percy Shelley clearly exercises sublimity throughout his whole poem to show shifts of how life changes but also how you can still be optimistic and everything will still flow together. The words of Shelley’s poem are used lightly, passionately, and also heavy on the heart almost.(?) He starts off from the beginning with words like “everlasting” and “glittering”. But shifts to words like “dark” and “gloom”. It shows that life is ever changing and that it fluctuates more than we think. Emotions also consume our lives but when they change they change but when they do, like i said they consume us.
Also the way Shelley’s poem flows is very symbolic of youth, it flows like a song but not perfectly. It rhymes and flows differently with poems that rhyme at the end but it does have some flow and coherence. Its sumblime because as much as it does not flow together we embrace it and “go to the own beat of our drum.”
“Mont Blanc” is an insightful poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley on his visit to the Alps when he was twenty-four years old. On the surface the poem appears to be a description or ode, if you will, to nature the all powerful being of young Romantics. However, it was not written for this purpose. I think that Shelley wrote this poem in view of Edmund Burke’s descriptions of where the sublime evolved.
A little phrase in line 6 illustrates Shelley’s youthfulness and involvement in the Romantic era through the thinking of the human mind, “[…] a sound but half its own.” It seems that Shelley was implying that humans do not think their own thoughts, half of them are from nature and sound like nature. Since nature was a key theme of the Romantics, then it should be natural that a whole poem is fixated on a young man’s thoughts of nature which encompass his mind. This encompassment is a step toward the sublime according to Edward Burke, “In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs it.” (“A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful: Of the passion caused by the Sublime”) This overpowering ideal pervades the speaker’s thoughts in such force that he begins to believe that even nature is not reality, “seeking among the shadows that pass by, ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee, some phantom, some faint image […]” (l. 45-47) The speaker is in turmoil over his thought that nature is a vague shadow until he concludes that there is no problem, just Mont Blanc wanting to convey that it is the force behind all human thought, “The secret strength of things which governs thought, and to the infinite dome of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee!” (l. 139-141) In short, “Mont Blanc” serves as an expression of Shelley’s youthfulness through sublimity, the power of nature over human thought which was increasingly popular with the youth in the Romantic Era.