Narrator And Ill-Fated Poet In William Shelley's Alastor

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In Alastor, Shelley critiques the role and life of poets using a Narrator and ill-fated Poet. The Narrator speaks to the reader, describing the Poet’s journey, and evaluating the Poet’s decisions concerning his life. It can also be alleged that Alastor anticipated A Defence of Poetry’s intent in defining the role of the poet. Examining his prose closely, this will prove to be true and there will be a realistic definition of the role of the poet. The reader will appreciate that the poet is one who binds the forces of the imagery and the senses into a beautiful wholeness of words along the page. Poets comprehend the cosmos in a way others yearn to and envision its grandeur; and they are the people who unify society with their sensational writing …show more content…
When early youth had passed, he left His cold fireside and alienated home To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.
(Alastor, 71-77).
Seemingly, even as a child, he knew there existed a greater world outside of his home. Thus, the Poet embarks on a journey where he encounters the beauty of nature and ruins of the past: He lingered, poring on memorials Of the world’s youth, through the long burning day Gazed on those speechless shapes, nor, when the moon Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades Suspended he that task, but ever gazed And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw The thrilling secrets of the birth of time
(Alastor, 121-128).
Ordinarily, these sights of Athens, Babylon, and Thebes, would impress anyone; but to someone like the Poet, they are preponderant vestiges of long-ago worlds. He experiences these ruins in a way unobtainable by most; they essentially speak to his soul. This influx of information gives his mind the capacity for vision, like a foundation for his poetic spirit. It should be obvious to the reader that this type of experience, along with the knowledge gained from the surroundings of nature, is important to the role of the
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In the Preface to Alastor, Shelley writes (2003: 92) ‘The intellectual faculties, the imagination, the functions of sense, have their respective requisitions on the sympathy of corresponding powers in other human beings. The Poet is represented as uniting these requisitions, and attaching them to a single image’. Furthermore, in A Defence of Poetry, he writes ‘Poets, according to the circumstances of the age and nation in which they appeared, were called in the earlier epochs of the world legislators or prophets: a poet essentially comprises and unites both these characters’. This solidifies the third step in defining the role of the poet: unifier. A poet unites the characteristics of humans with the beauty of the natural world; which is evident in Shelley’s use of lengthy scenery descriptions, for

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