English Literature » Notes » Shelley’s Love For Nature

Shelley’s Love For Nature

Love for Nature is one of the prerequisites of all the Romantics and Shelley is no exception. Love for Nature is one of the key-notes of his poetry. His poetry abounds in Nature imagery.On Love’ reflects colourful Nature imagery and glorification of Nature. He shows fruition and fulfillment in his poems. Other poems e.g. ‘A Dream of the Unknown’, ‘Ode to the Westwind’, ‘The Cloud’, ‘To Skylark’, ‘To the Moon’, etc. are remarkable poems of Nature in which we find a profusion of Nature.

Like Wordsworth, Shelley believes that Nature exercises a healing influence on man’s personality. He finds solace and comfort in Nature and feels its soothing influence on his heart.

Shelley, in his poetry, appears as a pantheist too. In fact, his attitude towards Nature is analogous to that of Wordsworth, whao, greatly influenced Shelly. However, as against Wordsworth, who linked the spirit in Nature with God, Shelley, on the other hand, linked it and identified it with love, for he was an atheist and a skeptic. He believes that this spirit ‘wields the world with never wearied love’.

Adonais reflects the most striking examples of Shelley’s pantheism. At an occasion, he thinks that Keats ‘is made one with Nature’ for the power, moving in Nature. Nature’s spirit is eternal.

The one remains, many change and pass.

He agrees that there is some intelligence controlling Nature. In fact, he fuses the platonic philosophy of love with pantheism. He finds Nature alive, capable of feeling and thinking like a human organism. Wordsworth equates it with God, Shelley with love.

Shelley loved the indefinite and the changeful in Nature. He presents the changing and indefinite moods of Nature e.g. clouds, wind, lightening etc. ‘Ode to the Westwind’ reflects this particular trend of Shelley, wherein, he shows the West Wind driving the dead leaves, scattering the living seeds, awakening the Mediterranean and making the sea-plants feel its force. His poetry lacks pictorial definiteness and, often, his Nature description is clothed in mist. As compared with Coleridge, Wordsworth etc. he is the least pictorial. It is partly due to the abstract imagery and partly, owing to swift succession of similes which blur the picture. Yet, sometimes, his image is definitely concrete. The picture of the blue Mediterranean, lulled to sleep by his crystalline streams and awakened by Westwind is virtually remarkable and substantial.

Despite his pantheistic attitude, Shelley conceives every object of Nature as possessing a distinct individuality of its own, too, though he believes that the spirit of love unites the whole universe, including Nature, yet he treats all the natural objects as distinguishable entities. The sun, the moon, the stars, the rainbow – all have been treated as separate beings. This capacity of individualizing the separate forces for Nature is termed as Shelley’s myth making power which is best illustrated in “Ode to the Westwind”. He gives the West Wind, the ocean an independent life and personalities. He presents the Mediterranean sleeping and then being awakened by the West Wind, just like a human body.

The ancient Greek gave human attributes to the natural objects whom they personified. Shelley, too, personifies them, but he retains their true characteristics. He personifies the West wind ad the Mediterranean, but both remains wind and ocean. They have not been endowed with human qualities. He has almost scientific attitude towards the objects of Nature. Whatever he says is scientifically true. The Westwind virtually drives the dead leaves and scatters the seeds to be grown in this wind; the sea plants undoubtedly feel the destructive effects of the strong Westwind. Likewise, clouds do bring rain, dew-drops, snow, lightening, thunder etc. He observes the natural phenomenon with a scientific eye, though the description remains highly imaginative.

Time and again, Shelley’s Nature description has a touch of optimism having all the sufferings, tortures, miseries of the world. In Ode to the Westwind, he hopes for the best and is confident that-

If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?

His nature treatment is multidimensional; scientific, philosophic, intellectual, mythical and of course human. He is a marvelous poet of Nature.

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