Introduction

In this poem, the poet makes a comparison between summer and winter. He draws this comparison with the help of beautiful images. Summer is presented as beautiful and joyful. Winter is presented as harsh and cold. Summer symbolises happiness while winter symbolises lifelessness.

About the Poet

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822) was an English Romantic poet. He belonged to the second generation of Romantic poets along with Byron and Keats. His major works include Adonias, Ode to the West Wind, Ozymandias and To a Skylark

Theme

The theme of this poem is the contrast between the seasons of summer and winter and what they stand for.

Stanza 1

It was a bright and cheerful afternoon,
Towards the end of the sunny month of June,
When the north wind congregates in crowds
The floating mountains of the silver clouds
From the horizon–and the stainless sky
Opens beyond them like eternity.
All things rejoiced beneath the sun; the weeds,
The river, and the cornfields, and the reeds;
The willow leaves that glanced in the light breeze,
And the firm foliage of the larger trees.

The poet says that it was a bright and cheerful afternoon towards the end of the sunny month of June. This is the time when the north wind gathers in crowds, there are floating mountains of the silver clouds from the horizon, and the clear sky opens beyond them like eternity. All things rejoiced under the sun- the weeds, the river, the cornfields, the reeds, the willow leaves that bounced in the light breeze, and the firm leaves of the larger trees.

Stanza 2

It was a winter such as when birds die
In the deep forests; and the fishes lie
Stiffened in the translucent ice, which makes
Even the mud and slime of the warm lakes
A wrinkled clod as hard as brick; and when,
Among their children, comfortable men
Gather about great fires, and yet feel cold:
Alas, then, for the homeless beggar old!

The poet says that it was a winter when birds die in the deep forests, and the fishes lie frozen in the translucent ice which makes even the mud and slime of the warm lakes a wrinkled lump as a hard as a brick. During such winters, comfortable men gather among children around great fires and still feel cold. The poet exclaims sadly for the fate of the homeless old beggar during such a harsh and cold winter.