Stanza-Wise Summary of Dejection: An Ode

Stanza 1 (Lines 1-20)

Well! If the poet, who wrote the grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence, was correct in his forecast of weather, this night, which is so calm at this time, will not pass without being disturbed by winds which are more active than those which have broken up that cloud into slow-moving fragments or than the dull, melancholy breeze which is producing mournful sounds and which gently touches the strings of this lute on which the god of wind is playing and which should have been silent. For behold! the new moon is wintry bright. It is covered by a pale ghostly light which seems to be floating over it. But the moon has an edge of a silvery colour all around it. I see the old moon in the lap of the new, and it foretells the coming of rain and a storm which will blow furiously. And, oh ! already is the wind developing into a storm and rain has started falling in a slanting direction. The raindrops are falling rapidly and are producing a loud sound. The sounds of the rain and the storm have often raised my spirits in the past, though at the same time they created a terrifying impression on me and sent my mind wandering out of doors. It is possible that these sounds might produce in me their customary thrill. They might awaken this pain which benumbs me and might lend some movement to it.

Stanza 2 (Lines 21-38)

Mine is a grief which does not cause any piercing sensation. It is empty, thick, and dull. It is a suppressed, sleepy kind of grief that causes no excitement and that finds no natural outlet or relief in words, or sighs or tears. 0 Lady! I have been gazing on the western sky and its peculiar hue of yellow-green throughout this evening which was so peaceful and sweet, and I have been in a cheerless and spiritless mood. The song of the throstle singing over there has been inducing in me thoughts of other things. And I am still gazing (at the sky)’, and I am doing so perfectly with vacant eyes. I am gazing at those thin clouds which appear in fragments and which, here and there, look like parallel lines. Although it is the clouds that are moving, it appears as stars behind them are in motion. The stars appear to be floating behind clouds and sometimes between the clouds. When stars are not screened by the clouds, they look bright; when the clouds cover them, their light becomes dim, but they continue to be visible even then. The thin semi-circular over there seems to be fixed as if it has its roots in that portion of the blue sky where there are neither clouds nor stars. I see all these objects of Nature looking so beautiful and lovely.

Stanza 3

The poet says that he has lost all happiness and joys of life and his spirits are now dropping. The beautiful objects of nature can not even make him forget the sorrows of his life. Even if the poet was to keep gazing forever at the beautiful green light that seems to stay on in the western sky, it would be a futile effort because he would not draw any comfort from it. The heart itself is the real source of excitement and animation. When the inner source of excitement and animation has dried up, he cannot expect to experience these feelings by gazing at the beauty of the external objects.

Stanza 4

O Lady! We get from Nature what we have transferred to it from our own hearts. Nature seems to be full of life because our heart is full of joy and happiness. It is our own mood that is reflected in the nature. Nature cannot make us sad or happy. It is lifeless and cold. The human being themselves has to send whatever they want to receive from nature.

Stanza 5

O pure hearted lady, you need not ask me what is the nature of this powerful and sweet voice in the soul is purest moments of life. It is the essence of life and issues forth from the vitality of human being. Only the purest-hearted people are the recipients of this unique, gift of Nature, namely joy. This joy enables them to see a new earth and a new heaven which the vulgar and the proud persons cannot even dream of. Joy is the source of that sweet Voice; joy is the source of that bright light It is because of the joy in our own hearts that We feel happy. All the sweet sounds that delight the ear and all the beautiful sights which delight, the eyes flow from that joy in our hearts. All music is an echo of that sweet voice (the source of which is the joy in our hearts), and all beautiful paintings are a. reflection of that light (which flows from the joy in our own hearts).

Stanza 6

There was a time when, though there were difficulties in my way, the joy in. my heart enabled me to make light of my suffering. In those days, even my misfortunes served merely as material, for my fancy to weave visions of delight. That was the time when hope grew around me like a climbing plant around a tree. The pleasure even of hopes which did not belong to me seemed in those days to be my own (just as the leaves, and fruits of a plant growing around a tree seem to belong to the tree itself). But now’ the sorrows of life have crushed me and brought me from the upper regions down to the earth. Nor do I feel sorry that these misfortunes deprive me of my joy. But what grieves me is that each fit of depression renders my inborn ‘gift of the creative power of imagination inoperative. All that I can do now is to remain silent and patient ‘under the stress of my incapacity to give poetic expression to my, deepest feelings. The gift of poetic imagination with which I was endowed by Nature is .being suppressed by my Philosophical and metaphysical tendencies. The gift of poetic ‘imagination was my only treasure in life, the only quality on which my, life was based But ‘my metaphysical tendencies’ which’ were only a part of my mental make-up have weakened and crushed my real nature which was poetically constituted. Now metaphysical thinking has taken almost complete possession of my soul and become ‘a habit of the land.

Stanza 7 (Lines 94-125)

0 poisonous thoughts which have enveloped my mind and ‘which are like a fearful dream reality! I dismiss you. I turn my ‘attention from you and listen to the wind which has been raging without my having taken any notice of it. The sound produced by the wind striking the strings of the lute is like the prolonged scream of a human being who is being tortured and who cries in. his agony. You wind, who are blowing furiously outside, it would be, much better if you, instead of playing upon the lute were to blow against bare rock, ‘a’ mountain lake, alighting-struck ‘tree, ‘a high pine grove where no woodman has ever set foot or a lonely house which’ has long been believed to be haunted by evil spirits. You’re a reckless musician playing upon the lute. The sounds that you are producing are worse than those which are heard during the bleak months ‘of winter. It seems as if you are celebrating a devil’s Christmas among the blossoms, buds, and tremulous leaves in this rainy season when the gardens look dark-brown and the flower peep from behind the leaves. You are an actor, able to reproduce fully all Sounds of pain and suffering. You are like a powerful poet. You can blow with great fury, thus emulating a frenzied poet. What sounds are you producing now? You are producing sounds similar to those produced by the panicky retreat of a defeated army, with cries of pain of trampled men with painful wounds, groaning in pain and at the same time shuddering with cold.

But now there is a pause. There is a brief interval of the deepest possible silence. All that noise, similar to the sounds of a retreating army, with the groans, trembling and shuddering of trampled soldiers, has ended: Now the wind produces different sounds, sounds which are less deep and less loud, and which express less of fear and something of a delight. These sounds are like the pathetic poem written by Thomas Otway about a lost girl roaming about on a lonely stretch of territory, not far from home. The wind produces sometimes sounds of bitter grief and fear and sometimes it screams aloud like that lost girl who hoped that her mother would hear her cries and come to her rescue.

Stanza 8 (Lines 126-139)

It is midnight, but I have almost no thought of sleeping. May my friend have such experiences of sleeplessness only rarely’! May soothing sleep descend upon her and make her forget her worries! May this storm be only a kind of mountain-birth!
May all the stars shine brightly above her house and continue shining in silence as if they were ‘watching the sleeping earth! May she get up from bed with a care-free heart! May she feel happy and bright and may her eyes express a cheerful mood! May her spirits be raised by joy and may her voice be ‘sweetened with happiness! May all living creatures from one end of the world to the other dedicate their existence to her! May their existence become a vital force to add to the energy of her spirit 0 dear and simple-hearted Lady! May you be guided by heaven! You are the most faithful friend of my choice. May you feel happy forever and ever!


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