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Percy Bysshe Shelley – Mutability

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    Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the poem “The flower that smiles to day” also known as “Mutability”. In this poem, Mr Shelley brings up the fact that nothing in life is permanent. The Focus is given specifically on the good things that happen in our life and how in reality they are not as great as we may have thought they were.

    This poem was written in stanzaic form, with a few literary devices which include personification, anaphora, euphony and cacophony. Something that really stood out for me in this poem was the recognition of the fragility of the good things in our lives.As previously mentioned, a stanzaic form is used in this poem. There are many different types of stanzaic poems, but the stanzas in this poem are a combination of a quatrain and a tercet.

    The quatrain follows the pattern ABAB, and the tercet follows the pattern CCC. Within the poem the author uses the break between stanzas as an enjambement. The use of juxtaposition is very apparent in the lines “poor bliss” and “proud despair” found in the second stanza. The speaker in the poem is “We”, meaning us as humankind.

    This can be seen in the first stanza “all that WE wish to stay”. nd that use of addressing carries on throughout the poem.In this poem Percy Bysshe Shelley chose to view the good things in our lives as the saying goes, “the glass is half empty” which sets the tone throughout the entire poem as melancholy. The fact that he decided to write friendship, virtue, and love as merely fleeting moments, ever changing, just passing through the wind, it shows that he chose to view this with a negative perspective.

    As opposed to how others may think of these things as, life experiences allowing us to develop, and obtain precious moments that should be cherished throughout our lives.Not entirely sad, but a bit gloomy, it gives us a cloudy vision on what to expect in life. The poet uses both literal meanings and figurative meanings in his poem. When he talks about the flower that smiles and then die, the literal meaning would be that flowers die.

    Now when you take that more in depth and look at its figurative meaning, one may see that the flowers which smile, represent happiness, but when they die, it may show how your happiness could simply die off and disappear.The next two lines are quite self explanatory as to why the reader sees them as literal meanings. When virtue is frail, and friendship is rare, we know that there is no need to look further into what that may mean. Another example of literal meaning would be when he tells us that the sky is blue and bright, now it does not require a team of philosophers to figure out what that verse means.

    A few other figurative meanings that I have found would be the line about selling love, and the line that states what we wish tempts then flies.When he talks about love trading in poor bliss for pround despair, the reader, being me in this case, may come to the conclusion that the whole line is about watching someone you may have loved dearly, just walk out of your life, like it was nothing. For the things that tempt and then fly, figuratively it could represent our hopes and our dreams, and how they may have tempted us at first, but after a while, left our minds, or flown away. After reading this poem I had found several literary devices.

    There are three instances where the poet uses personification.The flowers that smile, lightning that mocks the night, and love how its sells poor bliss. In each of these verses, Percy personifies the non human things by giving them three different human qualities. He also uses cacophony in the majority of the poem, this is used to emphasize the generally unpleasant message that the poet is trying to convey.

    Now on the other hand, there is also the use of euphony in this poem, which was put there most likely to give the reader a more pleasant and calming feeling to counteract the generally unpleasant thoughts.Within the poem, Mr Percy Bysshe Shelley uses the literary device of anaphora. This style of writing is found in the line “Whilst skies are blue and bright, whilst flowers are gay, whilst eyes that change ere night” The repetition of the word whilst attempts to give the feeling of peace, happiness, and serenity. Whilst skies are blue and bright, contrary to what the poet had been previously saying, he now shows us a happier side of things, something a little closer to heaven.

    Whilst flowers are gay, in using the word gay to describe the flowers, the reader may now picture a more vibrant and colourful world. Whilst eyes that change ere nights make glad the day, from the first whilst all the way to here, the reader is able to have a break from all the negative thoughts and ideas that had been circling their mind. By adding in this little moment of euphony, the reader is reminded of the beauty of everything of which surrounds them.The very end of the poem gives us a real shock, almost like a wake up call.

    “Whilst yet the calm hours creep” in reading this line, one may be able to find that Mr shelley had added an emphasis on the last whilst, this may be to show us that it is not real, what he had just talked about is not real. “Dream thou and from thy sleep” by using the word dream, we as the readers begin to realize that the happy thoughts in which we were just presented with, may have all been but a dream. Then wake to weep” at this point we have now been awoken from our dreams, only to find ourselves stuck in the awful reality that the poet had been describing to us all along.Now knowing our break between reality and delusion, we must realise that this is more than just a nightmare, and we must come to know the fragility of all of which is good in our lives.

    Even within a matter of seconds, they could slip through our hands, only to fall into the cold unforgiving hands of another. Whether its emotions, memories, people, or chances, they all have an end, making nothing in life permanent.

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    Percy Bysshe Shelley – Mutability. (2018, Feb 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/percy-bysshe-shelley-mutability/

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