Explanation of Shelley’s Hymn to the Spirit of Nature

Hymn to the Spirit of Nature is a poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Stanza-Wise Explanation

Stanza 1

There is such love in Asia’s lips that it lights up the breath which passes through her lips. (This is poetical language, and the words here are not to be taken literally). There is such heat in her smiles that, before fading away, they warm the cold air. The cold air becomes warm in the fire of Asia’s smiles. Asia’s smiles are so bright and lovely that nobody can endure their brightness and loveliness. Therefore, she is asked to screen or conceal her smiles in her eyes. Her eyes are like intricate and bewildering paths. By looking into her eyes, a man would get lost and feel dazed.

Stanza 2

Asia is now called the Child of Light because she is so bright and shining. Asia is so bright that rays of light seem to be emanating from her body. Her body seems to be burning. Even her clothes cannot hide the radiance of her body which appears to be on fire. The brightness of her body is visible through her clothes just as the brightness of dawn becomes visible through clouds before the clouds are parted by the sun. Wherever bright Asia may go, she is surrounded by this heavenly atmosphere. In other words, she is a divine Spirit enveloped in heavenly light.

Stanza 3

There are other fair spirits in the universe, but Asia surpasses them all in beauty. Nobody can see Asia, because her splendour is dazzling to the eyes. Her voice is sweet, soft and gentle like the voice of the fairest of spirits. The glorious melody of her voice seems to be screening her from the sight of others. Everybody becomes dimly aware of her presence but nobody can actually see her, just as the speaker (Prometheus) feels aware of her presence and is forever completely lost in her glory, splendour and divine beauty.

Stanza 4

Asia is now regarded as the lamp that sheds its light on the earth. Wherever she goes, her beauty and brightness illumine the dark objects on the earth. Those whom Asia loves are very fortunate. Because of the power of her love, their souls are enabled to walk lightly upon the breezes. Those souls can walk upon the breezes till in the end, they collapse just as the speaker (Prometheus) is about to collapse. The speaker is feeling giddy or confused because of the dazzling beauty of Asia and because of the intoxication of his love for her. In spite of that, to be in love with Asia is in itself a matter of pride, and that, though the lover is lost owing to his profound love for her, he does not complain or grumble.

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