Hymn To Intellectual Beauty: Stanza 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 2
Line 13-24
Spirit of Beauty, that dost consecrate
With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon
Of human thought or form,—where art thou gone?
Why dost thou pass away and leave our state,
This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?
Ask why the sunlight not for ever
Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain-river,
Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown,
Why fear and dream and death and birth
Cast on the daylight of this earth
Such gloom,—why man has such a scope?
For love and hate, despondency and hope?

Summary

      Beauty consecrates not only Nature, but even Man, as his thought or form is submerged into it. But in the very hour of its appeal it vanishes. None may bid it stay; to enliven this miserable world, vacant and desolate. But is this mutability special to Beauty? Is not every universal law on which man builds his faith, mutable? There is no answer possible to the co-existence of love and hate, despondency and hope, birth and death.

Analysis

      LI. 13-17. Spirit of Beauty.....desolate? The poet questions why the Spirit of Beauty departs after sanctifying or lending a sacred character to all human thoughts and human shapes on which it shines. He is puzzled at its departure and asks why it passes away so suddenly, leaving the soul, which once enjoyed the bliss of this Spirit, in utter misery With its departure life at once becomes barren, dark, and empty. Its presence makes life beautiful and attractive, but its sudden departure causes the world to become a place of tears and suffering.

      LI. 18-24. Ask why...hope? The poet emphasizes the fact that the Spirit of Beauty is not constant. Hence he questions its inconstancy He asks in wonder why sunlight does not for ever weave beautiful rainbows over that mountain. Why should the beautiful and the virtuous have so uncertain and transient an existence? Why should the earth be made miserable by fear, dreams of evil, the cycle of birth and death? Why should man have the capacity to feel such contrary things as love and hate, hope and despair which make human life unhappy and miserable? The poet is lost in such futile questioning for which there are no satisfactory answers.

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