What are the Romantic elements of "She Walks in Beauty" by Byron, "Mutability" by Percy Shelley and "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by Keats?
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a. Capable of or subject to change or alteration.
b. Prone to frequent change; inconstant: (American Heritage Dictionary; on TheFreeDictionary.com)
In "Mutability," Shelly employs Romanticism's emphasis on the emblematic "language" of nature to symbolize the inconstancy of human nature, life, and experience. His method of doing this is to begin the poem with imagery of the mutable clouds against a "midnight moon" that, sweeping past, are soon enveloped in the darkness of night. He then shifts the emphasis in the third stanza of this lyric poem to the sleeping and waking experience of humans, emphasizing the fragile and mutable nature of experience.
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever.
We rest. – A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. – One wandering thought pollutes the day;
In "Ode on a Grecian Urn," clearly one of the Romantic elements is the presentation of beauty and how it acts as a reminder of man's ephemeral nature in life. Consider the following famous lines from the final stanza:
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
The poem as a whole suggests that the uquest for beauty is positive as it gives us humans an understanding of the eternal and timeless nature of beauty. However, it is also negative as it reminds us of our own transience and mortality. These are key Romantic elements that are seen throughout the works of Keats, Shelley and Byron.
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