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Thread: Percy Bysshe Shelley's When the Lamp is Shattered poem Analysis

  1. #1

    Percy Bysshe Shelley's When the Lamp is Shattered poem Analysis

    I hope I'm posting in the right section!

    For a class project we were each assigned to choose a poem written by a British author and memorize the poem as well as explain what the poem means.

    I've chosen Percy Bysshe Shelley's When the Lamp is Shattered.

    So far I THINK I've gotten the meaning of most of the poem

    Here are my thoughts on it, let me know what you think:

    When the lamp is shattered
    The light in the dust lies dead -
    When the cloud is scattered,
    The rainbow's glory is shed.
    When the lute is broken,
    Sweet tones are remembered not;
    When the lips have spoken,
    Loved accents are soon forgot.
    When a lamp is broken it doesn’t produce light
    When it stops raining the rainbow goes away
    When a lute is broken, the sound it makes isn’t remembered
    After words are said, they aren’t remembered

    As music and splendour
    Survive not the lamp and the lute,
    The heart's echoes render
    No song when the spirit is mute -
    No song but sad dirges,
    Like the wind through a ruined cell,
    Or the mournful surges
    That ring the dead seaman's knell.
    Music and light don’t survive once the lamp and lute are gone
    The heart knows no joy when there is no spirit
    Only a sad somber song, like that of wind through a cell (not sure whether it means a cellar or some kind of vent)
    Or the large waves that signal a sailor’s death

    When hearts have once mingled,
    Love first leaves the well-built nest;
    The weak one is singled
    To endure what it once possessed.
    O Love! who bewailest
    The frailty of all things here,
    Why choose you the frailest
    For your cradle, your home, and your bier?
    When two hearts are attracted to each other, love will leave
    Love goes to a weak heart, to endure what it once possessed (not sure on the second half)
    Oh love, who laments the most fragile of things here
    Why do you choose the weakest to reside in?

    Its passions will rock thee,
    As the storms rock the ravens on high;
    Bright reason will mock thee,
    Like the sun from a wintry sky.
    From thy nest every rafter
    Will rot, and thine eagle home
    Leave thee naked to laughter,
    When leaves fall and cold winds come.
    Your (love’s) passion will be hard on the fragile heart
    every support for the nest will rot, and thine eagle home (not sure about the second half)
    once the nest has fallen you will be homeless, in the winter/fall
    Bright reason will mock thee,
    Like the sun from a wintry sky
    I'm not sure what he's saying here

    Overall summary:
    Percy starts out by giving us examples of things that extinguish once their source is destroyed, then he relates those to the hearts music and the spirit of it's occupant. By saying that without spirit the heart only sings sad and somber songs.

    The last two octaves I'm not too sure on, I think he's saying that love will help two hearts mingle then move on to another weak heart and love must again endure it's journey ("to endure what it once possessed"). Percy then questions why love, who expresses sorrow for the frail things, would choose the frailest heart to reside in, he then goes on to say that love will rock the heart, like a storm rocks a raven and that bright reasons (not sure what he means by this) will mock love, and will chase it away like a wintry sky chases away the sun, from every nest the support will fall out and love will be left naked and embarrassed at the worst of times.

    Thank you for reading / helping. (;

  2. #2
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    Very like Shelley to use imagery which is connected with Nature. This poem gives us a dismal picture of love by focussing on the transitoriness of all material things. Love too is treated as something which changes and this poem is therefore more akin to modernism than to romanticism.It leaves the reader broken and shattered to think that love is a weakness to be abhorred than a fulfilling experience.

  3. #3
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    Love in Shelley

    Very like Shelley to use imagery which is connected with Nature. This poem gives us a dismal picture of love by focussing on the transitoriness of all material things. Love too is treated as something which changes and this poem is therefore more akin to modernism than to romanticism.It leaves the reader broken and shattered to think that love is a weakness to be abhorred than a fulfilling experience.

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