Shelley’s Abstractness & Visionary Idealism



Shelley’s poetry is regarded as abstract, lacking the note of high earnestness and having nothing solid and substantial. That’s the reason Mathew Arnold alluded to Shelley as “a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his shining wings in vain”. It is alleged that he appreciates fanciful ideals, weaves dreams and does not deal with real life.

Undoubtedly Shelley’s poetry relating to love, beauty, nature and human life is really near visionary picture. The reason is that for the duration of his life he remained in the grasp of such dreams. This affected his poetry as well. It is said that Shelley’s poetry is substanceless and almost a fabric of vision. He has spooky and dreamy imagery in his lyrics. Notwithstanding this, no vagueness of impact or intellectual mistakenness incorporate his poetry. Plans may be faint, be that as it may they are unmistakable.

We may not avoid from the fact that Shelley was an idealist and a prophet. He conjured idealistic pictures of the gracious fate of mankind. He was a skeptic, rather he had trust in the regeneration and recreation of mankind with equality, value, peace and social cooperation. He had a dream that the present odd world would disappear and another universe of grandness would dawn. “Tribute to the West Wind” is both idealistic and prophetic in which he is certain that, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind”. In “Ruler Mab” he trusts for new world and goals change. In “Prometheus Unbound” the author assumes that humanity will move from the stage of sufferings and tragedies. Unnecessary to say, that the trust of the journalist has gradually been realized. His ideals, which once looked visionary, now do have a practical shape. Many of his dreams have either worked out or are at the present time being realized.

Visionary idealist, he was, yes to say, that he as ineffectual, separated from reality, would be doing treachery to him. Notwithstanding the fact that some of his dreams were phantoms, yet he dealt with democracy, science and spirituality. He presented the battle of the miserable and the oppressed in threatening world. He was a revolutionary artist. He opposed biases, traditions, ignorance, even against dogmatic religion. He found religion when in doubt, serving as an instrument of covering Man’s chance and as an alloy of political persecution. Being a beau of opportunity and adaptability, he was an accommodated renegade against all the current establishments, gatherings and traditions. The affection of opportunity and hatred of mistreatment made him to defy all the established organizations, political, moral, social and so forward. “Ruler Mab”, “The Revolt of Islam”, “Prometheus Unbound” and so forward stand confirmation to it.

Along these lines, we cannot say that Shelley’s poetry was without substance. His dreams were not of a mad man rather that of an individual, dedicated to the regeneration of mankind in a better world to come. His dreams are of a sane and right minded individual who thought great of mankind at heart. His dreams are those of an idealist and a prophet, dissatisfied with the real world. In “Prometheus Unbound” this vision is paramount. In “Tribute to the West Wind” he is idealistic about future. In “Hellas” he assumes that humanity will move from the shape of hopelessness and agonies.

To Byron, Shelley was the best and the least egotistical man he ever came across. He is not ineffectual, for he part away from traditions, traditions, gatherings, sham morality and religion. He was a renegade and a reformer. He attempted to change by giving an idealized picture of the world. The conservative readers of his age couldn’t accept his change, regardless, today he is considered as a prophet and idealist – a man for advance of his time. Shelley translates the longings and aspirations of his age. He reflects strive for circumstance and value. His forecasts are materializing. Arnold’s estimation is, in this manner, unjustifiable. He is, probably, beautiful, however not “ineffectual”. He is, in fact, a prophet of another faith. Eliot has leveled upon him the charge of adolescence and Lewis and Tate, that of inadequate workmanship. Both are forcing points of view.

Daiches, giving a balanced viewpoint, centers glare that the charge of adolescence cannot be totally blocked because of hysteria, conceit and emotionally, yet there is essayist of conviction in his best work. Byron preached opportunity, yet his approach was emotional. Wordsworth was a mastermind, yet lacked passion and Shelley, regardless, was that great scholar who joined passion with perception.

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