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Percy Bysshe Shelley

(1792-1822 / Horsham / England)

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Mutability


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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Wednesday, May 04, 2011

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Read poems about / on: sorrow, power, moon, dream, sleep, joy, lost, night, rose

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  • Rookie - 823 Points Sagnik Chakraborty (9/10/2014 10:29:00 AM)

    Deeply philosophical and sombre, yet so moving. Shelley's poetry always pulls the strings of heart. In my opinion, PBS is perhaps the greatest verse artist in the English language. Certainly the most lyrical and the most versatile. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Lovers quest (8/1/2013 12:05:00 AM)

    Oh shelley oh shelley can I taste your morning dew. I promise not to shack the clouds from the new moon. The acoustics would only muffle a shimmering light. I also promise to only bring you delight, if I must be oh so polite. I will wait until you are ready remembering to only go steady as i try not to forget or fret with disbelief or with most horrible regrets. I to have tasted her poison of lustrous dreams that would only strike fear in those who would dare. But some where and I mean some where I do know they all still care. And this is true the path of this departure still is free that s why I plea oh shelley oh shelley can I taste your morning dew. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tony Walton (7/31/2013 10:42:00 AM)

    Shelley is our greatest poet apart from Shakespeare whose best stuff is drama anyway.
    But this is just a tiny minor piece.
    Try giving 'em 'Queen Mab' or, if that's a bit long (!) 'Ode to the West Wind'.
    NOT, please, 'Skylark' and 'Ozymandias' which are ALWAYS the anthologised ones and are, again, sidebars to the Main Story.
    And all you budding poets: Go forth and READ HIM. Sunday (August 4th) is his birthday. Celebrate! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 184 Points Jack Growden (7/31/2013 1:07:00 AM)

    PLEASE READ MY COLLECTION! I am young and aspiring to be an author! Be sure to rate and comment as you go, kind regards, Jack Growden (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Max Segal (9/2/2012 11:10:00 AM)

    Shelley at his game again. As a person always distraught and saddened, he reflects upon the ephemeral human feeling and mood. He claims that man is a capricious and unpredictable creation, and that just like his joys will pass, his sorrows will pass with the same speed. Concise outlook on a deep topic. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jay Mandeville (7/31/2012 3:30:00 PM)

    The stately, melancholy simplicity of this poem's diction makes its philosophic point movingly. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (7/31/2012 11:13:00 AM)

    Yet still we read, understand and love Shelley's poetry! Our day could not be more different than his in innumerable ways, yet the constants that unite humanity, and have united it for millions of years, are more important than the variables. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Awais joyia (7/31/2011 12:18:00 AM)

    the whole poem is symbolic. it urges the man kind to do something. it is such nice poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Joseph Poewhit (7/31/2010 7:25:00 PM)

    There is a flow of life that goes on day to day. The bottom line is change can displace and leave only the concept of mutability left to languish. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Terence George Craddock (7/31/2010 11:49:00 AM)

    Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley is a poem addressing how change and alteration effect human beings and our lives. In stanza one ‘We are the clouds that veil the midnight moon; ’ the metaphor of clouds describes our mutability. The lines ‘How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, /Streaking the darkness radiantly! —’ reflects upon how our lives are prone to inconstant yet frequent change, yet swiftly pass. Clouds are constantly changing as do we, through various stages of our lives, until ‘soon /Night closes round, and they are lost forever: ’; clouds perish, disappear as do we ‘lost forever’ in death.
    The simile of the lyre is various images of old age, ‘like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings’ observes failing abilities and the forgotten elderly with ‘frail frame’. Days of inactive, sitting, pondering, frequent naps is ‘One mood or modulation like the last.’
    We rest rise to feel the emotions of perception in joy or sadness, in the degrees of experience, as Shelley describes, but ‘It is the same! ’; because regardless of how we live or what we experience, all inevitably leads to death. In the mutability of our lives, there are moments when opposing forces of change, may match or negate one another, but ‘Nought may endure but Mutability.’ The theme of ‘Mutability’ is perpetual change. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Terence George Craddock (7/31/2010 11:49:00 AM)

    Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley is a poem addressing how change and alteration effect human beings and our lives. In stanza one ‘We are the clouds that veil the midnight moon; ’ the metaphor of clouds describes our mutability. The lines ‘How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, /Streaking the darkness radiantly! —’ reflects upon how our lives are prone to inconstant yet frequent change, yet swiftly pass. Clouds are constantly changing as do we, through various stages of our lives, until ‘soon /Night closes round, and they are lost forever: ’; clouds perish, disappear as do we ‘lost forever’ in death.
    The simile of the lyre is various images of old age, ‘like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings’ observes failing abilities and the forgotten elderly with ‘frail frame’. Days of inactive, sitting, pondering, frequent naps is ‘One mood or modulation like the last.’
    We rest rise to feel the emotions of perception in joy or sadness, in the degrees of experience, as Shelley describes, but ‘It is the same! ’; because regardless of how we live or what we experience, all inevitably leads to death. In the mutability of our lives, there are moments when opposing forces of change, may match or negate one another, but ‘Nought may endure but Mutability.’ The theme of ‘Mutability’ is perpetual change. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 212 Points Ramesh T A (7/31/2010 2:25:00 AM)

    It is a defining poem about mutability! He has done well with clouds, lyre and ever changing Nature in a standard poem of this kind! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Gregory Collins (9/6/2007 8:41:00 PM)

    hey jellyspoon, another mutated aberration from the insipid creature, are you going to suck the tits off rational explanation or just eat oreos and gummy bears and try not to offend your golf buddy, wow, to be under the sheets with you when there is love in the time of cholera, what i would not give to be slam dancing to joni mitchel with you, you have got to be in my top five influences, any thing dawg gawd......any dry and self depricating suffocate me to death words, eh jellyspoon (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 188 Points ... Dog God 8hate (7/31/2007 10:48:00 PM)

    The immutable mutability...dare the deities design such irony in converse expression of sanctity. WOW! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Pamela Davison (8/1/2005 9:34:00 PM)

    This was the most amazing thing I've read in a long time. Thank you poemhunter.com for introducing me to this author. I will be sure to read more soon. (Report) Reply

Read all 17 comments »

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