Hymn To Intellectual Beauty: Stanza 5 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 5
Line 49-60
While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
Through many a listening chamber; cave and ruin,
And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
I was not heard—I saw them not—
When musing deeply on the lot
Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing
All vital things that wake to bring
News of birds and blossoming,—
Sudden, thy shadow fell on me;
I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy!

Summary

      As a boy he has sought communion with the spirits of the other world. He has tried to believe in the current dogmas of religion, but rejected them with bitter feeling as unsatisfactory. Then with a flash, in the vacant mood, he saw Beauty and clasped his hands in ecstasy.

Analysis

      LI. 49-54. While yet a boy.....I saw them not. Here Shelley gives an account of his futile efforts to hold communion with ghosts in his youth. When he was still a boy he made every possible attempt to communicate with ghosts. He ran through many vacant chambers, caves and ruins in search for ghosts. He pursued in his search, with fearful steps through the woods lit up by starlight, with high hopes of communicating with the ghosts. He tried all the wild incantations which, he had been told as a young boy, would summon ghosts. But they proved fruitless, for neither did any ghost appear before him nor did any make efforts to communicate with him.

      LI: 55-60. When musing.....in ecstasy. Shelley relates the thrilling experience of how he encountered the awareness of Intellectual Beauty. He was brooding over the nature of life and on human destiny in the sweet spring time, when winds were blowing to wake up all vital things and when birds and blossoms make an appearance. Suddenly he became aware of the presence of Intellectual Beauty. Having experienced the splendid vision, he cried out in joy and clasped his hands emotionally. His very awareness of Intellectual Beauty was joyful for him.

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