Summary of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s To Wordsworth

To Wordsworth reflects Percy Bysshe Shelley’s’s admiration of William Wordsworth and his later disillusionment with him. Shelley felt that his decline was due to his adoption of increasingly conservative opinions in politics and his acceptance of government patronage. In this sonnet, Shelley speaks for his generation when he rebukes the master for his decline.


Shelley hails Wordsworth as the poet of Nature and says that Wordsworth has realized that things once departed never return. Childhood, youth, friendship and love’s first glow pass away like sweet dreams leaving the dreamer to mourn. Shelley too feels these woes that are common to all mankind. He too like Wordsworth feels the loss but stands alone to deplore the cause of his fall.

He then recollects Wordsworth’s sunny days as a successful guide. Even in his poverty, he wrote poetry of truth and liberty. Like a lonely star guiding a fair boat on a tempestuous winter sea at midnight, and like a strong refuge built of a rock in the middle of a blind and battling mass of people, Wordsworth was inspiring to his contemporaries and younger poets of his time. Such a person of high inspiration and nobility deserted all this, for the sake of money. His fall disappoints Shelley and he grieves over that.

Shelley refers to Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality in which he laments the passing away of the innocence of childhood Wordsworth was the champion of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity but later on, he renounced his faith in democracy and turned a Tory and hence Shelley criticises his transient nature. By Wordsworth’s change, Shelley feels the loss of Wordsworth himself who was a maker of “Songs consecrate to truth and liberty.

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