Homework Questions: Part One (See Part Two ) "Defence of Poetry" (1821)
How does this piece compare with Wordsworth's Preface to
What, according to Shelley, is the difference
between imagination and reason (you may wish to compare
Coleridge's discussion of the imagination and the fancy in Biographia
Literaria, esp. pg. 495).
Explain: "A poet participates in the eternal, the
infinite, and the one" (873). (See also Coleridge's
conception of "the infinite I AM"
Explain: "Language is arbitrarily produced by the
imagination, and has relation to thoughts alone" (874).
Explain: "A Poet is a nightingale who sits in
darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sound"
Explain: Poetry "awakes and enlarges the mind itself by
rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended
combinations of thought" (877). (See also Coleridge's
discussion of the plan for Lyrical
Ballads on 497.)
Explain the image of the fading coal. (See also
Coleridge's discussion of "Kubla Khan" on 465).
Explain: "Poetry is the record of the best and
happiest moments of the happiest and best minds" (880). (See
Explain: "All things exist as they are
perceived: at least in relation to the percipient"
Explain: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators
of the world" (883).
Other Discussion Questions: 764:
Why was Shelley expelled from Oxford?
Explain the Platonic conception of the two worlds.
What does skeptical idealism involve?
Explain the image of the Aeolian lyre.
Explain: "The savage is to ages what the child is to
years" (872). How does this compare to Wordsworth's
discussion of "low and rustic life" (305)?
Explain: "Men, even in the infancy of
society, observe a certain order in their words and
actions distinct from that of the objects and the impressions
represented by them, all expressions being subject to the laws
of that from which it proceeds" (872).
How, according to Shelley, is the language of poets
Explain: "[L]anguage itself is poetry" (873).
How, according to Shelley, is a poet both a
legislator and a prophet?
Explain: "The great instrument of moral good is the
imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by acting
upon the cause" (877).
Explain: "We want the poetry of life" (879).
Explain: "Poetry "is at the same time the root and
blossom of all other systems of thought" (879).
Explain: "Poetry turns all things to loveliness"
What, according to Shelley, is the difference
between poetry and logic?
How does Shelley's description of the poet here compare
with Wordsworth's on page 313?
Explain: Poets "are the hierophants of an
unapprehended inspiration, the mirrors of the gigantic shadows
which futurity casts upon the present" (883).
Part Two: "Ode to the West Wind" (1820) 806:
What is the significance of the colors of the leaves blown
by the wind (4)?
What is the significance of the reference to Siva and
In what ways are clouds like leaves (15-23)?
How are waves like clouds and leaves (35-40)?
Explain lines 53-54.
"To a Sky-Lark" (1820) 850:
What is the significance of the sky-lark being unseen
Explain lines 31-35.
How does the discussion in lines 36-40 compare to Shelley's
discussion of the poet in his "Defence" (876)?
Explain "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of
saddest thought" (90). Compare with "Poetry is the record of
the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds"
("Defence of Poetry" 880).
Explain lines 101-105.
Other Discussion Questions:
What is the significance of the West Wind?
Explain the comparisons to the poet (36-40), maiden
(41-45), glow-worm (46-50), and rose (51-55).
Part Three (Other Poems to
Consider: Page #s refer to earlier edition): WW, "London 1802" (1802)
How do the sentiments found in this poem (and in
Shelley's "To Wordsworth") compare with those in Byron's
Dedication to Don Juan, stanzas 10 and 11?
What is the main point of this poem?
What is a fen?
Explain the description of wealth in lines 4-6.
What would Milton's return accomplish, according to WW?
PBS, "To Wordsworth" (1816) 775-76:
How does this poem compare to WW's "London 1802"?
Why might Shelley have made connections to that poem?
What is Shelley's main point?
"England in 1819" (1819)
What exactly was the Peterloo Massacre?
Explain the leech imagery in lines 4-6.
What book is "sealed" (11)?
Explain lines 13-14.
"The Mask of Anarchy" (1819)
In what ways is this a revolutionary poem? In what ways
is it not?
Explain the irony in lines 34-37.
Why do the multitude adore anarchy (41)?
Explain the imagery in lines 118-25.
Explain the lion imagery in 151-55.
What is Shelley's definition of slavery (160-96)?
What is Shelley's definition of freedom
Explain lines 230-33.
Explain lines 250-53.
Describe Shelley's final call to "action" (295-351).