"The Mask of Anarchy":

1) Why does Shelley write in the first stanza (l.4) that the voice from England led him "to walk in the visions of Poesy"? To me, it appears that his work is not that much about a vision and "poesy" as reality; he is basing his poem on an actual historical event and writing about a particular political climate. True, Shelley in this work speaks of many unrealistic (imaginative, fanciful) images, characters, and the like, but it seems to me that this all serves to enhance, emphasize, and encourage people to be concerned with and active in the actual political situation of the time. In other words, he is writing about reality through imaginative metaphors, and so it seems to me that he would want to stress the reality rather than not, at least in his introduction (although he certainly does this in his call to action of his conclusion).

2) This question ties in with the first. What effect does the personification of Anarchy and Murder have here upon the reader? Does this make the work more powerful or weaken it?

3) Who is the "Shape arrayed in mail,/Brighter than the Viper's tale" mentioned in line 110? (I think) this is also the same image later described in lines 135-139: "A rushing light of clouds and splendour, a sense awakening and yet tender..." What/who is this?

4) It seems to me that "The Mask is a sort of "Queen Mab" for a different audience. How might this be true? i.e. What are the similar themes between this work and Queen Mab? Who is the intended general audience of each? Do you think that Shelley's intent is more successful in one or the other of the works, or does he accomplish his purpose in both? And what is this intent in each?

"Ode to the West Wind":

5) Why does Shelley devote so much of the poem to a description of the west wind and its movements, if the reader isn't told until the last sonnet of the author's interest in using the west wind as a messenger to spread his ideas: "Drive my dead thoughts over the universe/Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!/...Be through my lips to unawakened Earth/The trumpet of a prophecy!" Furthermore, why does Shelley/the narrator say his thoughts are "dead"? Because they're not being recognized by all? Because they're not being put into action? And is Shelley alluding to moral or political ideas/revolution, as the editor notes in the footnote? I wonder if readers of the time recognized this. I suppose they did, if they had read other works by Shelley or reviews which discussed this.

6) What is the purpose of the last line, "O Wind,/If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?", coming on the heels of Shelley's request to the wind to spread his thoughts throughout the world? Perhaps this is a comparison of the expectation of the coming of Spring with the narrator's hope for the wind to grant him his request: to indeed carry his thoughts and opinions far and wide, and thus aid in creating positive changes in the world.

7) The wind here is characterized as both "Destroyer and Preserver" (l.14). Compare this conception of the wind with Shelley's view of Nature in Mont Blanc", (l.94->): "All things that move and breathe with toil and sound/Are born and die...Power dwells apart in its tranquility..." Shelley continues to talk of the greatness of Mont Blanc in relation to life and creation and death and destruction. Some of my own thoughts on this: Nature in both works is considered a very powerful force: it can destroy or be used positively, like a revolution. If a revolution is controlled and used for positive means, it can produce good; yet it can also destroy like the wind.

"Ode to Liberty":

8) Who is the Spirit referred to in line 11? ("Till from its station in the heaven of fame/The Spirit's whirlwiond rapt it...") It's also referred to in line 271: "The spirit of that mighty singing/To its abyss was suddenly withdrawn". What or who might it be who is narrating this story of liberty and tyranny? Why might Shelley have chosen to frame the work in this way?

9) Why does Shelley say in l.266: "O, Liberty if such *could* be thy name..."? I assume here he's referring to liberty itself so I am somewhat confused; or is he saying that there is no liberty; that this is the problem?

10) Stanza IV seems to me to have less purpose than any other stanza. It talks neither of the lack nor of the existence of liberty or tyranny or any conception of either of these. It speaks only of "prophetic echoes" and uses many similies to describe "Art's deathless dreams". [I don't know to what this refers. Any ideas?] I suppose the stanza mostly functions as a link between others more substantive. But does anyone see anything in it that I don't see?

"Peter Bell the Third", Part III:

11) Why does Shelley concentrate on a description of Hell and not on Peter Bell suffering there? Is he saying that Hell is like London in that it contains all of its evils? What is his purpose in this section?

[Just an interesting point is that one of the base evils which Shelley enumerates, among delusion and suicide, is Methodism - and he compares these on the same level! (l.176)]

--Leora Aster