I have some trouble analyzing PB Shelley's poem "Mont Blanc", I understand that in the poem, influenced by Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey", he questions the relation between nature and the human mind....

I have some trouble analyzing PB Shelley's poem "Mont Blanc", I understand that in the poem, influenced by Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey", he questions the relation between nature and the human mind. The poem starts with the speaker being caught up in staring and taking in the mountain, the giant wonder of nature, he then goes on to personify the mountain otherwise it is too big to grasp. He draws parallels between this amazing creation of nature and that of the mind, right? In Stanza 1, the speaker then brings forth the central problem about understanding the nature of the power of "the everlasting universe of things" by employing the river as a metaphor, because, like human understanding, the river has had the ability to cut through the mountain over time, even though it started as a "feeble" brook. Now, what I can't grasp is the relation between the metaphor of river and "the everlasting universe of things"? What is exactly implied by the latter? Any help is appreciated, thank you in advance.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As opposed to William Wordsworth's "Lines Composed A Few Miles above Tintern Abbey" in which the poet compares his present adult experience of nature with the "haunted" passionate experience he had as a youth who "bounded o'er the mountains," Shelley's mind prevails in his discussion of nature and is both rational and creative. Moreover, for Shelley, it is the mind that provides nature its meaning: the mind lends itself and nature the "sublime" experience. For, in the final lines, Shelley asks,

And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea,
If to the human mind's imaginings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?
 
With this final analysis of rational thought as the creative force of the poem and as the interpreter of nature, "the everlasting universe of things" is the rational and creative thought of the mind that gives meaning to nature. In Shelley's poem, the mind is compared in metaphoric terms to a river as
 
from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
to nature its meaning. For, rather than being the moral teacher that Wordsworth believes it, nature, for Shelley, is only provided meaning by the human mind whose "tributaries" of creative thought and rationality lend it its splendor. For, the river of thought-- 
and one majestic River,
The breath and blood of distant lands--
is able to penetrate nature and give meaning to "the everlasting universe of things." Clearly, then, in this splendid poem of Shelley's the comparison of the mind with its prowess of thought to a river is the controlling metaphor for that explains the meaning of the poem.
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