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Who, moving, cast the coverlet aside,
Was ever man so grandly made as he?”— or Kipling's unconscious heroes with honest sweat of toil on their begrimed faces. The modern world has done with men, however eloquent their eyes and gestures, who weep and faint with weariness. They are a survival of seventeenth century French sentimentality, utterly alien to the English temperament, and as happily buried in the past as the Satanism of Byron's breed of destiny-branded heroes.
Idealism, which was the weakness of Shelley's masculine figures, is an element that intensifies the beauty of his women. They are not wholly abstractions of cloud and vapour. The general impression which their description conveys may be bewildering, but only because the images which denote it are merged in the Ideal of Beauty,
“ Till they are lost, and in that Beauty furled
Which penetrates and clasps and fills the world,
Clouds in repose or slow-moving (or vapours).
1, 3, 16, 17, 23, 30; cf. also in other categories 225, 1290, 1296, 1363, 1695. Clouds in swift motion (or vapours).
9, 13, 18, 31, 36, 37, 39, 47, 53; cf. also 1364, 1373, 1477, 1485, 1487, 1491, 1497, 1534, 1567, 1578, 1706.
A pregnant contrast between Shelley and Wordsworth is afforded by their respective descriptions of clouds, Shelley preferring habitually to revel in their swiftness, and Wordsworth to rejoice in their deep repose. The strenuous palpitating swiftness of Shelley is certainly never attained by the elder poet, though he has his moments of keen participation in the ardours of rapid motion, as witness his noble poem, “To the Clouds."
The love of speed was rooted in Shelley's temperament (as the similes of swiftness attest), and the clouds he paints are suffused also with an intensity and purity of colour which no English poet has. ever approached. Intensity of Colour in Cloud Similes.
5, 18, 19, 26, 36, 43, 50. Colour Contrast, 5, 12, 13, 21. Transmitted Light, 33, 34, 38, 40, 45, 46, 51, 55.
(6) WATER COLOUR—36 similes.
Transmitted Light, 65, 71; Reflected, 71, 95; Intensity, 61, 90;
Transmitted, 124; Intensity, 100, 118, 120, 121 ; Contrast, 113.
Transmitted, 135, 136, 141, 148 ; Reflected, 129, 142; Intensity,
Transmitted, 159, 167, 168; Reflected, 149, 154; Intensity, 158
178 deserves attention, where the light of a star is compared to
Transmitted, 187; Reflected, 192; Contrast, 187, 194.
Reflected, 227; Intensity, 215.
Intensity, 237, 239, 244, 247, 248.
Fire, 253; Stars, 254, 255, 258, 263, 264 (N.B.), 276, 277,
Intensity, 267 (N.B.); Contrast, 263, 267.
Note especially for their boldness, 295 and 297.
Snow, 315, 316, 317, 318, 321, 324, 329, 331.
Gruesome in character, 323, 327.
Transmitted or Suffused colours, 352, 359, 361, 391, 393, 395,
Reflected, 334, 362 ; Intensity, 413 (N.B.)
(2) SIMILES OF Sound—210 similes. Many points of interest arise in this category to admirably illustrate the range of Shelley's sympathies. As Sweet in his suggestive study observes : “The range of Shelley's sympathies is boạnded only by the universe itself. He combines forests, mountains, rivers, and seas into vast ideal landscapes; he dives into the depths of the earth, soars among clouds and storms, and communes with the sphere of sun and moon.
So here we find a Byronic exultation in the stormy symphonies which are the voice of nature's unrest, and a subtle penetrating sympathy, to which Byron's coarser-fibred spirit was not attuned, for the delicate eddies of sound that steal upon the sense in an hour of calın.
Thunder affords the basis of comparison in three unremarkable similes, 460, 462, 539.
Earthquake, 439, 476, and 474, where the hush between two earthquakes symbolizes the awed silence of a multitude.
Volcano. The cry of a multitude bursts like a volcano's voice in 464.
Tempest ; and wild outbursts of sound are compared in 564 to a tempestuous wind tearing the sluggish clouds, and less successfully in 430 (from an early poem) to the weird notes of a wind among the trees. 440, 466, 634, describe the silence in the pauses of tempest.
The similes descriptive of the human voice abound in Human
delicate perception. The bases of comparison for the Voice.
human voice are as follows: Bird, 436, 602; Wind in trees, 438, (446); Wind among flowers, 481; Dying Wind, 458, 471; Wind on water, 427; Wind in ruins, 429, 612, 626, (cf. 873); Wind, 428; Flame, 482; (Words= Fire, 563; Embers, 572); Ice, 470; Stream, 454, 455, 457; Waves on sand, 480; Music, 434, 452, 483, 484, 505, 506, 587; Waterfalls, 433; Light, 619; Shout = Sea, 477; Sound = Sea, 478.
The characteristic manner, already illustrated, of expressing one sense in terms of another is illustrated as follows: Sound = Sight, with generally bright light superadded, 441, 449, 533, 548, 549, 557, 574, 575, and see above where Voice = Flame, Fire, Light, etc. Sound=Odours, 467, 488 (N.B.), 536 (N.B.); Gruesome, 444, 450,
(3) SIMILES OF ODOUR—12 similes. The sense of smell, as lower on the intellectual plane, contains naturally few similes. A few additional ones are contained in the preceding category.
641 and 642 are more luxuriantly sensuous in character than is usual with Shelley, and remind one rather of Keats, or of Tennyson in his studiously sensuous mood as in the “Lotos Eaters.”
(4) SIMILE AND METAPHOR—184 similes. In this category simile and metaphor are combined with high poetic effect, the simile, as a rule, rising out of the body of the metaphor. This gives to the figurative expression, as a whole, a volume of sustained power, which is frequently lacking in the lighter individual similes. Occasionally, as in 649, the simile seems to inspire the metaphor which follows as its natural completion. So also 704, 712-13, 714, 716, 717, 825.
Examples of the reverse process where the metaphor is completed by a simile:
653. Hope clings like ice. (In cases like this it is, however, almost impossible to say whether the metaphorical idea of "hope clinging " came first into the poet's mind, and the simile expression “ like ice came as a natural complement to the idea, or whether, as the order of words in the original suggests, the simile inspired the metaphor. The former would be the more natural poetic sequence of ideas.)
660. Agony is worn like a robe.
661. In the wilderness of years her memory appears like a green home.
Noteworthy similes in this category. 690-1. (Imitated from “Calderon.” See Shelley's note.) Here a condition in Nature is elucidated and amplified by human analogy. This reversal of the natural process of simile (from human to natural) is not uncommon in Shelley, though rare in other poets.
Observe, as representing many others, the magnificent similes, 712-3.
Other fine similes in this category are 717, 718, 719, 731, 732, 745, 746, 751, 761-2 (note the vigour and intensity, and also the element of colour), 765 (cloud innagery), 766,785, 791 (cloud imagery). 813 contains the gruesome element so common in Shelley.
The similes in this category almost all repay study for the penetrating insight which they reveal into beautiful processes in nature, presented not alone for their own sake, but as revealing the significance of human conditions.
In 738 the simile and metaphor are not in harmony-'a blot upon the page of fame' being likened to a serpent's path. The analogy
'' is too remote to be successful.
(5) DOUBLE SIMILES—183 similes. It will at once be evident that some of these partake of the characteristics of other categories, as for example, 885, 887, which might have been classified under Simile and Metaphor.
But taking even a doubtful example like 885, it will be seen that there is a certain parallelism of structure which justifies its insertion among double similes. “ As a golden chalice catches the
bright wine which else had sunk into the thirsty dust, so is my overflowing love gathered into thee.” (as) Asia : chalice (so) I: the wine.
This parallelism or double-thread of simile will be revealed by an analysis of any simile under this rubric. Some examples, as 839, 879, etc., are much condensed, and a very few, as 841,962, are obscure from mere crudeness.
Gruesome Similes, 836, 850, 939.
These similes are very characteristic of Shelley. Readers of Trelawny's Record” will remember his interesting relation of the poet's own account of his methods of composition. ."? When my brain gets heated with thought it soon boils, and throws off images and words faster than I can skim them off. In the morning, when cooled down, out of the rude sketch, as you justly call it, I shall attempt a drawing.” This swift succession of imagery is also found apart from the double similes; e.g., 76f, 176f (and indeed throughout the • Triumph of Life,” which is a vast succession of accumulated similes), 290f, 297/, 3187, 513f (this is of the type Double Simile, but included under Similes of Sound), 545f, 603f. Also see “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,” I. ; and as a remoter instance of the same rush of figurative thought, observe the accumulated metaphors in “Epipsychidion," 211
(6) HOMERIC SIMILES -49 similes. These are merely double similes of a more extended and pictorial character. As in the Homeric simile proper, the analogy is not maintained through every detail of the comparison. On the contrary, there need be only one essential point of contact, but the artistic impulse continues to develop a sustained poetic image, wrought out seemingly for the sake of its own beauty, and rather as an imaginative than as an intellectual stimulus. The type is a familiar one to the student of the classical poets, or even of our own classically minded poets, Milton, Tennyson, Arnold. E..., Iliad,” IV.: “As when on the echoing beach the sea wave lifteth itself up in serried array before the driving west wind; out on the mid deep doth it first raise its head, and then breaketh upon the land, and roareth aloud, and goeth with arched crest around the promontories, and speweth afar the foaming brine; even thus in close array moved the hosts of the Greeks without pause to battle.”
As an example of finely-wrought similes of this order in Shelley's poetry, reference should be made to 1015, 1036, 1050, 1058, 1059, 1060.
These are very successful similes in their kind, though not fashioned so carefully after the classical model, as certain famous examples in Milton, Tennyson, or Arnold. Some, as 1018, might easily have been classified as Double Similes.