Description: The article analyzes the romantic vision of the poem.

“Love’s Philosophy” (by Percy Bysshe Shelley) : An Analysis

The Text

The Fountains  mingle with the River
And the Rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All the 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 are all these sweet kissings worth
If thou kiss not me? #

Romantic Vision

That “nothing in the world is single” forms the thesis of the poem. Shelley’s philosophy of love or loving implies a reasoned or analyzed relationship objectified by example. Living things desire their kind. Lovers are to be in blissful union the way the elements of nature blend : for example, the mountains kiss high heaven, the moonbeams kiss the sea, the fountains mingle with the river, the rivers join the ocean, the winds of heaven mix, the waves embrace one another, the sunlight clasps the earth. Nature and man are destined by “divine law” to “kiss”.

The poem evokes the romantic vision of mingling or union as a natural state, in which context the poem’s persona tells the lady that it is natural for man and woman to kiss . They must kiss if all these unions exemplified by the “kissings” among the elements of Nature are to have their “worth”. This intimacy symbolized by “kiss” and “kissings” implies the principle of the universality of love when applied to man and woman.

The wisdom in the poem is found in Shelley’s rhetorical question : “What are all these kissings worth /If thou kiss not me?” Since a rhetorical question begs the issue, it is assumed that Shelley’s wisdom is in fact true. It could also mean that the reader may just avoid the issue because love cannot be forced. Shelley, an amorist and libertarian , is proposing a playful yet down-to-earth philosophy of learning to love by simply imitating lovers. You can take it or leave it. ###

 

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  • Eunice Tan on Aug 9, 2011

    I tend to agree with Shelley.

  • Francois Hagnere on Aug 10, 2011

    Another brilliant analysis. Love cannot be forced, this is very true.
    Thank you so much.

  • Socorro Lawas on Aug 10, 2011

    Thank you, Eunice, for agreeing with Shelley. We are on the same page.

    Francois: Maybe, by asking the question, Shelley means that taking the lead in a relationship (by innuendo) is seeking to blend, to come together with the other person in a universal need to love and be loved. This may be a challenge that he hurls to the non-committed, an apostrophe or call to those who seem to perpetuate their loneliness and isolation by refusing to learn to love, because love can be learned: it is in the mind but in can be objectivized by a touch.

  • Ram Bansal on Aug 13, 2011

    You put breath back in my life by your words.

  • neopisiva on Aug 14, 2011

    It’s true, love cannot be forced….it is something that should occur naturally and without an obvious reason.

  • Socorro Lawas on Aug 25, 2011

    Your comments make me happy.

  • Socorro Lawas on Sep 21, 2011

    The poem tells us what a kiss means.

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