Hymn To Intellectual Beauty: Stanza 1 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 1

Line 1-12 

The awful shadow of some unseen Power
Floats though unseen among us,—visiting
This various world with as inconstant wing
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower.—
Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance
Each human heart and countenance;
Like hues and harmonies of evening,—
Like clouds in starlight widely spread,—
Like memory of music fled,—
Like aught that for its grace may be
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.


      The awful shadow of some mystic spirit of Beauty floats invisibly among men and visits all objects. The poet here talks of the mysterious, unseen but omnipresent Power, which manifests itself in all beautiful aspects of Nature.


     LI. 1-7. The awful....countenance. Intellectual Beauty, which is invisible, pervades this whole universe. But its visits are inconstant; Just as summer winds that blow from flower to flower inconstantly, just as moon-beams that fall on pine-covered mountains, so also Intellectual Beauty visits each human heart and face with a suddenness and uncertainty. It is a temporary visitation and people suffer its loss once it disappears.

      LI. 8-12. Like hues....‘its mystery. Just as the colors and sounds of the evening as well as the clouds scattered widely in starlit sky are enchantingly beautiful and charming, so also Intellectual Beauty possesses an unearthly loveliness and charm. It is also inconstant, like the hues of the evening and the clouds in the sky. A delicate impression of music is left in the memory long after the music has ceased. So also even if the Intellectual Beauty departs, its delicate and vague impression is retained in human hearts. In spite of its temporary existence, it is dear to the heart. It is like something dear to us by its grace; and even more dear because of its mysterious and indefinable nature.

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