The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another’s being mingle–
Why not I with thine?
See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;–
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)
Here is a love sonnet from a romantic Shelley seeking a kiss … or using his words seeking to mingle in another’s being … very suggestive. Whether it was reciprocated is another matter. But it is more than just a love poem for his love philosophy underlines some certain basic philosophic tenants in relation to how Shelley viewed the world.
The world is a unity and everything is connected. There is no such thing as a singularity. This is clearly stated in the first eight lines. But more over the connecting force in the way the world has been created is love. All things have come from a divine source and mingle in a natural love with ‘sweet emotion’. I went to a poetry meeting last night and one comment from a reader was ‘every thing in life reduces to emotion’ … and Shelley would have it as sweet emotion … a very positive view of the world and the way it was created and the essence of that creation. It is very much an inclusive view of life – one world. And a beautiful world.
In the last two lines of this section we see a personal plea for Shelley to mingle with some particular person … suggesting that these words were given, or read, to someone special. Another interpretation of ‘I with thine’ is a seeking of a link between Shelley and his environment … we perhaps assume that Shelley feels connected with nature … my view is that he certainly does for he expresses the beauty of the world in his poetry … but he may be seeking a deeper link.
The last six lines explore the close relationships between elements in the universe. This close connectivity is likened to ‘kissing’, moreover he now considers nature in terms of the family relationships of sister-brother … this is how the elements are joined … you may think that this is a little bit poetic in the extreme.
The last two lines say it all … please kiss me … this is what it is all about, for all this natural connectivity has no value unless he is connected likewise.
Perhaps those that have had an intense spiritual experience can equate the experience with a feeling of great love for nature … a greater awareness of the beauty in nature … and on the same basis as that expressed by Shelley.
(I have this vague memory of Prince Charles talking to his plants at one stage in his life … perhaps he had been reading too much Shelley.)