Love’s Philosophy

Love’s Philosophy

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

Summary of Love’s Philosophy

  • Popularity: Written by Percy Bysshe Shelly, a famous romantic poet, “Love’s Philosophy” is one of the best love poems. It was first published in 1819. The poem presents the idea of how everything in nature and life has a companion except the poet. The poet draws the graphic picture of togetherness of all things in nature. The popularity of the poem rests in its presentation of love’s philosophy in terms of human intimacy parallel to the binding cosmic force.
  • “Love’s Philosophy” as a Representative of Love: The poet presents his tender feelings about love. He speaks about his utmost desire to stay with his beloved. He longs for his love and feels frustrated that his love is not by his side when he sees beautiful things around him in pairs. He says that intimacy is the law of nature and supports this argument by describing various parts of nature. He further implies that people are meant to mingle with one another. His description of the physical interaction of natural objects foreshadows his belief that physical attraction between human beings is natural. By addressing his beloved, he says that there is no reason for them to stay separated.
  • Major Themes: The major theme of the poem is the phenomenon of unrequited love. The whole text discusses the intimate nature of love. The poet explains this idea, using figurative language and natural imagery. He argues that everything that exists in the universe has a companion and that there is no meaningful separation in the natural world. The idea of love and relationships will surely enchant readers.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Love’s Philosophy”

Literary devices are used to bring richness and clarity to the texts. The writers and poets use them to make their texts appealing and meaningful. Shelly has also used some literary devices in this poem to convey intended meanings. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked to receive an answer; instead, it is asked for explanation and clarity. Shelly has posed a rhetorical question at the end of both stanzas to emphasize her point. For example, “Why not I with thine?—” is a rhetorical question at the end of the first stanza.
  2. Personification: Personification means to accord human characteristics to inanimate or animate objects. Shelly has used personification such as, “The fountains mingle with the river”; “The Mountains kiss high heaven”; “Moonbeams kiss the sea” and “The waves clasp one another.” Here fountains, mountains, waves, and moonbeams are given human abilities like kissing, clasping and mingling with one another like humans.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “No sister-flower would be forgiven” and /s/ sound in “See the mountains kiss high heaven.”
  4. Metaphor: The poet has used extended metaphors in the poem to establish the idea that love is spiritual. For example, “fountains mingle with the river”; “And the moonbeams kiss the sea.” Here the bond of natural objects represents his idea of love.
  5. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /a/ in “And the waves clasp one another” and /e/ sound in “And the rivers with the ocean.”
  6. Imagery: The use of imagery makes the readers understand the writer’s feelings and emotions. Shelly has used visual imagery in this poem such as, “fountains mingle with the river” and “sunlight clasps the earth” and sense of touch in “the waves clasp one another;” and “See the mountains kiss high heaven.”
  7. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same line such as the use of /n/ sound inIn one spirit meet and mingle” and the sound of /w/ in “What is all this sweet work worth.”
  8. Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which the writer purposely exaggerates something. Shelly has used this device in the fifth line where it is stated as, “Nothing in the world is single.” Here the writer exaggerates loneliness.

The analysis shows that Shelly has beautifully used literary devices to stress upon the theme of love and the need for a beloved.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Love’s Philosophy”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Stanza: A stanza is the poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas with eight lines in each stanza.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The whole poem follows the ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme.
  • End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The following rhymes like “river – ever” “ocean – emotion” make the poem flow efficiently and also give a pleasant effect while reciting.
  • Stressed and Unstressed Syllable: These two types of syllables are used in trochee such as the first is stressed and the second is unstressed syllable in “Love’s Philosophy”. This pattern is used in the entire poem, for example, “See the /mountains/kiss high/heaven.”

 Quotes to be Used

The above-stated stanza can be used when teaching about the captivating and alluring beauty of natural objects.

“See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:”