Mont Blanc: Shelley’s Youthful Expression

In Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, Mont Blanc: Lines written in the Vale of Chamouri, he seems to indicate his current youthful state through descriptions of the sublime world that lies before him. The poem consists of multiple in-depth descriptions of the mountain and the ravine that Shelley wants the reader to experience as being sublime. Seeing the mountain as “far, far above, piercing the infinite sky” and finding that “the power is there, the still and solemn power, of many sights, and many sounds, and much of life and death”, Shelly brings about the idea of greatness or sublimity of not only the mountain itself, but of all that the mountain looks down upon. Shelly allows the reader to look down with him upon all that the mountain is and surrounds, and revel in the awe that he himself feels. Through this, Shelley reveals his own youth to readers.

Shelley’s youth is reflected in the vastness of what he sees or comprehends when he looks at Mont Blanc. He gives grand descriptions of everything with words like infinite, power, sublime, omnipotence, unfathomable, inaccessible, which could be meant to give an expression of the infinite viewpoint that Shelley has within youth. As a youth (at 24 years of age), Shelley stills has what he would at least believe to be a vast future stretching far before him, just as he has the vast mountain, ravine, and river stretched before the reader. An older Shelley might write these same descriptions quite differently, giving more of a finite nature to what he sees, but Shelley’s youth allows for a lack of knowledge of the finite nature of the world, and a greater appreciation for the new and infinite possibilities for both the Mountain before him, and the life that lay yet to come.

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One thought on “Mont Blanc: Shelley’s Youthful Expression

  1. I thought it was really interesting that you said Shelley showed his youthfulness by allowing us to experience the awe that he felt when he was writing this poem. Also when you said that his lack of knowledge of the finite nature of the world gave him a greater appreciation for the life ahead of him was really interesting. I had not really thought of it in that way, and I felt like I understood the poem more after reading this post.

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