Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guest Review: "Mutability" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Editor's Note:  My son, Jason A. Gordon, was invited to review a poem for Songs of Eretz.  He chose Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822) (pictured).  The poem is in the public domain.


We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!--yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest.--A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise.--One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same!--For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (c. 1815)

Through various forms of imagery and metaphor, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822) describes how life is subject to sudden and drastic change for any person at any time. “We are as clouds,” he begins, forced to obey the whimsy of the wind. In a moment, “night closes round, and [we] are lost forever.” Percy is stating that while we may feel happy and free, “night” may close around in an instant. Even the bliss of sleep may be ruined by a bad dream. A day may be going fine, but one bad thought, or one bad occurrence could ruin everything. People are afraid to admit that their lives are so subject to change. The thought that we could lose our job, home, or routine at any time–for a plethora of reasons–scares us. We go about our day convincing ourselves that everything will be fine, and nothing bad will happen. However, we must learn to accept change, “for, be it joy or sorrow,” the only thing that is truly consistent in change.

Jason A. Gordon

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