Hymn To Intellectual Beauty: Stanza 4 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 4
Line 37-48
Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart
And come, for some uncertain moments lent.
Man were immortal, and omnipotent,
Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art,
Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart.
Thou messenger of sympathies.
That wax and wane in lovers' eyes—
Thou—that to human thought art nourishment,
Like darkness to a dying flame!
Depart not as thy shadow came,
Depart not—lest the grave should be,
Like life and fear, a dark reality


      Love of humanity; Hope for its future, and Self-esteem come and go. If the power of which they are the manifestations could take a firm stay within the heart of man, we would be immortal and happy for ever.


      LL 37-41. Love, Hope.....within his heart. Like the flitting clouds, Love of humanity; Hope for its future, and Self-esteem are uncertain and unstable. Shelley believes that man will indeed be immortal and all-powerful, if only this awful Spirit of Beauty with all its glorious accompaniments, whose Nature we hardly know; takes a permanent abode within the human heart.

      LI. 42-43. Thou messenger.....lovers' eyes. The poet addresses the Spirit of Beauty as the messenger that brings to man the message of mutual sympathy. It is this Spirit of Beauty that binds two human souls together with ties of sympathy and love. According to Shelley, the union of two loving souls is brought about by a mutual recognition of the Beautiful.

      LI. 44-48. Thou that.....a dark reality. Intellectual Beauty nourishes human thought just as darkness seems to nourish the dying flame. The greater the darkness, the brighter does the dying flame look. The Spirit of Beauty helps and stimulates human thought. Hence the poet asks or requests the Spirit not to fade away even before casting its shadow upon us. For he fears that once it vanishes, human hearts lose the hope of life and they fear death just as they fear misfortunes of life. Shelley has great faith in the power of Intellectual Beauty which is a source of courage and solace and helps man to face the problems of life and death.

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