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Shelley's lyricism is a poetic expression of his innermost sensibility as a man deeply engaged in the numerous political struggles of his time. Shelley was very much a political animal, a man involved in many causes throughout his short lifetime. One such cause was Irish nationalism, which he saw as...

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Shelley's lyricism is a poetic expression of his innermost sensibility as a man deeply engaged in the numerous political struggles of his time. Shelley was very much a political animal, a man involved in many causes throughout his short lifetime. One such cause was Irish nationalism, which he saw as the only moral response to the manifest horrors of British colonial rule in that benighted part of the Empire.

His most eloquent expression of support for Irish freedom comes in his elegy for Robert Emmet, the famous Irish rebel. In "On Robert Emmet's Grave," Shelley pulls off the neat trick of combining heart-felt lyricism with revolutionary fervor. As the poem progresses, one senses the didacticism of his early poetry gradually giving way to a more lyrical approach, thus providing a bridge between two distinct phases of Shelley's development as a poet.

In the following lines Shelley's undoubted enthusiasm for Emmet and the cause he represented takes a back seat to the pure play of language, lush lyricism at its lushest:

May the tempests of Winter that sweep o’er thy tomb
Disturb not a slumber so sacred as thine;
May the breezes of Summer that breathe of perfume
Waft their balmiest dews to so hallowed a shrine.

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Lyricism is a quality that is defined as sensuality of expression or an intense outpouring of strong, passionate emotion. It is clear that this definition is one that can be applied to the works of Shelley in the way that he explores the descriptions of nature and his own responses to them. For example, in "Ode to the West Wind," Shelley identifies himself in the power and strength of the West Wind, and implores the West Wind's help to spread his ideas and purpose:

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.

O! Life me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd

One too like thee--tamless, and swift, and proud.

Shelley's lyricism can thus be seen in his emotion as he both identifies with the West Wind, stating that both he and the West Wind are "tameless, and swift, and proud," but also in his use of exclamatory utterances that convey intense emotion, such as "I bleed!" Nature is not something that is described dispassionately by Shelley, and he uses it to convey his own strong emotions and feelings throughout his poetry.

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