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A Dirge -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Guest poem submitted by Cristina Gazzieri:
(Poem #500) A Dirge
 Rough Wind, that moanest loud
 Grief too sad for song;
 Wild wind, when sullen cloud
 Knells all the night long;
 Sad storm, whose tears are vain,
 Bare woods, whose branches strain,
 Deep caves and dreary main, _
 Wail, for the world's wrong!
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley
For those who like Romanticism,  Shelley's 'Dirge' has incredible appeal.

The natural elements (wind, storm, wood, caves, main) are presented alongside
with a series of adjectives of an indisputably Romantic nature, suggesting utter
desolation and dark melancholy (rough, sullen, sad, vain). The few verbs
(moanest, knells, wail) also reinforce the idea of deep grief and wasting

The word "wind" is repeated twice in this short poem and as in the more famous
'Ode to the West Wind' it stands out as the central element of the composition.
As in the 'Ode...' the wind is connected with the tree - note the analogues
sky=cloud, Earth=wood caves, Sea=main - in a poetic structure which is yet much
more compressed than the long, complex and repetitive composition of the former
poem. Moreover, the parallel structure of lines 1-3-5-6 gives the poem a
strongly marked rhythm which adds to the intensity, especially thanks to the
fact that there is only one final verb that supports the whole poem: wail.
Natural elements are constantly personified in the poem (the wind moans, the
clouds are sullen, the storm is sad and sheds tears) so that the poet
establishes a connection between natural elements and human feelings, which,
being attributed to the different natural backgrounds of the earth become
somewhat universal. I also think that in the poem there are traces of the
ancient topos of man as a tree in the use of the words "whose brances strain",
but I admit, I could be forcing the interpretation here.

Though I do not like all Romantic poetry I find in this poem by Shelley a force
and greatness I could not disregard.


30 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

P G MURTHY said...

500 is a great number. Congratulations! A suggestion. How about inclusion of
an occasional limerick? Or would it depart a great distance from poetry?
PG Murthy

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